While plenty of emphasis is being placed on the 23-man squad that Roy Hodgson announced on Monday afternoon, one of his smaller teams has remained in place for some time. The Three Lions take an extensive technical team with them to major tournaments, with no fewer than seventeen different backroom professionals travelling to the previous World Cup in South Africa.
In the case of fitness professionals, there are five men which have been described as the backbone of the backroom team. Considering the immense heat that players will be subjected to this tournament, the roles of the following five should not be underestimated and highlight just how much preparation is involved for this competition.
Chris Neville – Fitness Coach
The first piece of the England fitness jigsaw arrives in the form of Chris Neville. Once upon a time the fitness coach would be responsible for the warm up and cool down elements of training, but Neville’s responsibility now stretches much wider than this. As well as his coaching, he also bases a lot of his work on analysis; whether it’s the work rate of players in the competitive match environment, or how they are recovering following a match.
Neville’s “day job" is at Championship club Blackburn Rovers, where his title is the Head of Sports Science. His philosophy on fitness training is to be as personal as possible; and this means that each member of the England team will be given their individual training plan based on their own performance and body type.
Mark Sertori – Masseur
As strange as it may sound, the England team usually take more than one masseur. At the moment, just two have been confirmed and Mark Sertori heads this team. A former professional footballer in the lower divisions, Sertori joined the national squad for the previous World Cup in 2010.
This is one of the more recent job titles in football and several years ago it would have been unheard of to find a masseur based in the dugout. However, they are now regarded as crucial components of any successful team and each and every member of the England squad will most likely be receiving a massage after both training and match days. It’s essential for recovery, particularly in the high and unfamiliar temperatures that the squad will be facing.
Gary Lewin – Physiotherapist
A slightly more conventional role arrives in the form of the team’s physiotherapist, with Gary Lewin holding this position since 1996. While Lewin’s main job is to treat and manage any injuries that players incur, he will also liaise with other professionals such as the fitness coach and masseur to tailor specific schedules to aid recovery times.
In terms of Lewin himself, this is arguably the most well-known fitness professional of the Three Lions. He carved his career at Arsenal, having been the physio for the Gunners for no less than twenty two years, and gaining a reputation as one of the world’s best. There are also suggestions that he has saved the careers and lives of some players, with Eduardo da Silva and John Terry being the respective examples.
Dr Steve Peters – Psychologist
Someone who potentially has an even bigger reputation than Lewin in the whole of professional sport is the country’s psychologist, Dr Steve Peters. The psychological area of football has developed significantly over recent years and it’s now rare to find a national team that doesn’t carry their own psychologist. In the case of England, it will be interesting to see whether Peters is able to transform their penalty phobia – should they reach this stage.
They have certainly appointed someone with a huge pedigree in sport, anyhow. Peters is credited as being one of the big influencers in the British cyclist team that experienced so much success, and medals, at the Olympics. He’s also worked wonders with Ronnie O’Sullivan, while an added benefit is that he already has a history of working with several of the Liverpool players who are going to be involved in the squad.
Tim De’Ath – Chef
We’ll finish this post in the kitchen, where Tim De’Ath is based. While his name may sound rather fearful, the fact that his dishes have been served to the likes of Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson shows how highly regarded he is within nutritional circles. For the time being, at least through his day job, he’s actually the player liaison officer at West Ham.
De’Ath will be responsible for creating a concoction of different dishes for different days. On the days leading up to a competitive match, he’ll be looking to load players with carbohydrates, while throughout the tournament he will be looking to make sure the squad consume up to six litres of water every day to cope with the soaring temperatures. Already, he has flown out to Brazil and assessed each and every hotel’s kitchen facilities that the team might be staying in. This includes the facilities that the team would be staying in should they achieve the unthinkable and reach the final, highlighting how thorough the head chef’s responsibility really is.
Of course, the England team’s preparations don’t just stop there. While amateur athletes might not be able to rely on a personal chef or their own masseur, they can tap into some of the other areas which the squad take advantage of. Particularly in the heat of Brazil, something as simple as clothes with cooling technology are going to be crucial during training sessions and can also be used in your standard workout. Take a look at our range of men’s vests to see just how clothing can help you – and how you can at least match the England team preparations from one angle.