We continue our look behind the scenes in our Staff 7 series with seven questions masseur Tony McAllister.How did you become a masseur?
I initially trained as a physical training instructor in the air force. In 1995 I trained as a remedial therapist and did a few additional qualifications like massage, electro-therapy and worked as sports therapist in the air force from 1995 until I joined Tottenham in 2001.
What qualifications do you need?
For the job at Spurs I just needed basic sports massage. Both myself and Paul (Roberts, fellow club masseur) have a physical training background and remedial therapy to exercise rehab. On top of that I have a diploma in sports rehab and various diplomas that would give indemnity if I went into private practice. But specifically for Spurs it's an understanding of sports massage.
How did you get to Spurs?
I was very fortunate to work with Paul Roberts in 1996 in a sports rehabilitation for MOD personnel. Anyone from a muscle pull to leg amputation would come to us for rehab. Paul joined Spurs and when Glenn Hoddle joined he wanted another masseur, so I started working part-time before I came out of the air force. I was offered a full-time contract here in 2001.
Why is massage so important?
Two reasons. First all, from the physiological aspect of stimulating muscles to go out and do a day's work - in this case football. Secondly, from a physcological point of view, certainly before games, players feel better after a massage. Most of the players will have a massage on match day. We know it stimulates muscles, increases blood flow, tires muscles feel more lively.
Who is on your bench the most?
Everyone loves a massage but Stephen Carr always comes in early, Jamie Redknapp, Darren Anderton, Robbie Keane. Those are my four regulars, Paul has his regulars as well.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a masseur?
First of all, you don't need formal academic qualifications to do a massage course. There are many sports societies opening their doors now because they have identified that football, rugby, all professional sports have a need for it. Most colleges will offer a two-year diploma course on sports therapy and massage on a part-time basis. There are also correspondence courses where they will send you the theory, you read it up and you have weekends at the college. Have an interest in a sport, get on a course and once you have a qualification, look for part-time work and work yourself up - but don't expect overnight success!
What do you enjoy most about the job?
So many things. Being in the environment around the players is a thrill. I still get a buzz travelling with the lads. It's great satisfaction when after a training session or a game a player might come and say he felt good and the massage did something for him. It's just a buzz around the training ground.