Physio Allen is fit for purpose

Steve Allen
Steve Allen
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From left to right: Jamal Lowe, Adam May, Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke after Pompey's loss to Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Some pundits would say he has the hardest job in football – keeping an already depleted squad fully fit – but new Pompey physio Steve Allen has no regrets.

The 44-year-old had a number of potential suitors when he left Charlton Athletic in the summer, including Southampton and Saudi Arabian champions Al-Hilal.

An injured Michael Brown gets help from physio Steve Allen

An injured Michael Brown gets help from physio Steve Allen

Yet he opted for Fratton Park and the challenge of aiding Pompey’s resurrection in the Championship.

Leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, Allen’s ambition was to become a professional footballer.

Colchester offered him that opportunity but his dream was cruelly cut short through injury after just three first-team games.

That instigated a difficult change in career paths and by the age of 19 he became the youngest person to gain the FA Treatment of Injury Diploma.

Several months after that Allen became the youngest head physio in the first division, joining Wimbledon in 1987.

A degree in sports science followed, along with a first-class honours degree in physiotherapy, as Allen made his way in the game.

Now Pompey is his latest stop-off – a job that filled him with excitment when the opportunity arose.

‘Clubs come and go in spirals and it’s about catching a club at a good time,’ he said.

‘The opportunity to come and work for Steve (Cotterill) at a club like Portsmouth was exciting, as I believe the club has a chance to rebuild and come back up.

‘In the summer I had several potential options.

‘The first was to rejoin Alan Pardew at Southampton – after I worked with him at Charlton and West Ham.

‘The second was to work in Saudi Arabia with the champions Al-Hilal and the third was to work with Steve at Portsmouth.

‘He is one of the best managers I’ve worked with and I’ve worked with an awful lot.’

Allen first met Cotterill while working for the Dons in 1989, when the Pompey boss was signed as a player.

His time at Wimbledon also saw him work with the famous Crazy Gang.

He feels his time at Plough Lane prepared him well for the challenges he currently faces at Portsmouth – although working with such a small squad is new to the experienced physio.

‘If you can deal with the Crazy Gang, you can deal with most things that are thrown at you,’ said Allen.

‘Without a doubt, this is the smallest squad I have ever dealt with.

‘It makes it easier because you have less to deal with.

‘But it also makes it harder because there’s more pressure on you to get the players fit.

‘It’s a real double-edged sword.’

Despite his key role at Fratton Park, Allen remains sincere about his impact on the team’s on-field performances.

‘We’re not as vital as the players on the pitch,’ he said. ‘They’re the ones who make or break what we do.

‘You could be the best physio in the world but on a match day it’s all down to the 11 on the pitch.

‘We been very lucky with injuries. In the first half of the season, we probably had the most respectable injury record of any club in all four divisions.

‘With a small squad, sometimes you need that luck.’

Having enjoyed FA Cup success with Wimbledon and promotion with Crystal Palace, Allen believes the good times can once again return to Fratton Park.

‘Given the right tools and armoury, he (Cotterill) could take the club far,’ added Allen.

‘He built a team at Burnley that went on to gain promotion to the Premier League and he will do that again here.

‘He needs the right tools, and the belief to do it.

‘I know the fans, players and staff all have that belief.’