Lifetime’s work rewarded for England physio

FORMER England physio Alan Smith has picked up a lifetime achievement award for his work in football.

Alan (66), who now runs his own practice in Bawtry Road, Wickersley, said he was stunned to be given the accolade at the Football Medical Association conference.

He said: “It is a very prestigious award and I didn’t know anything about it.

“We’d had the lectures, then the dinner and then they presented the prizes. I was sitting there preparing to applaud the recipient and all of a sudden my name came up on the screen and I was announced.

“It is a real honour because you are nominated for the award by your peers — doctors, physios and masseurs that work in football.”

Alan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award and a ‘21 Club’ trophy for ‘Over 21 Years Service to Professional Football’ by manager Ron Atkinson, who Alan worked with at Sheffield Wednesday when they defeated Manchester United at Wembley to win the 1991 League Cup.

Alan lists that among his top footballing memories, alongside England beating Spain to win the 1984 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship and the day he was appointed to the England senior team in 1994.

As well as working with England’s semi-professional, U-21s, ‘B’ and full senior squads, Alan served as physio with Rotherham United — winning promotion to the then Third Division in 1973/74 — Blackburn, Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday.

He said: “I have absolutely no regrets. I enjoyed over 30 years in the game and was privileged to work with so many great people at every level, from the old 1971/72 season at Darlington in the old Division Four to the World Cup Finals in 1998 and 2002. I valued and very much appreciated my career.

“I always felt that I played an important part; getting players fit, keeping them fit so that they could play to their maximum, which is a vital requirement. In helping the players you are helping the manager and his coaching staff to get the best results possible.”

Another memory is of the time when Alan Shearer had an hernia operation. “I would treat him at Blackburn Rovers and the next day he would come to Wickersley on alternative days and he passed fit at Euro ‘96 and was the leading scorer and won the golden boot. The kids nicked out of school to see him on the playing fields at Wickersley and were then given permission to watch,” he said.

Alan is proud to run his practice from Rotherham and said: “I settled here with my wife Judith when I first came to Rotherham United in 1972 and I have always maintained a strong interest in the club. I go to the Nostalgia Club, I’ve supported the club and maintained strong friendships there.

“I find the people of Rotherham solid and reliable and I’ve always a enjoyed a good relationship with them.

“My family lives here, one of my sons was born here as were my three grandchildren. Both my boys married local girls and they both live in Rotherham. We all settled here and are happy living here.

“I also take students from Thomas Rotherham, Wickersley and Dinnington on work experience here and they are striving to be the physios of the future, which is great.”

Outside of his work, Alan trains at Bannatyne’s gym in Bramley and recently undertook a course in counselling at Dearne Valley College.

He is also consultant physiotherapist with Sheffield Wednesday and patron of Saltburn Athletic FC in his home town in the North East.