School of Health & Society 02.08.21

GRADUATION 2020: From pitch to practitioner – Danny scores first class degree

As a semi-professional footballer, Danny Shaw has enjoyed plenty of success on the pitch. This week though, he’s celebrating a different kind of achievement, as he graduates from the University of Salford with first class honours.

Danny first thought about working in physiotherapy when he was on a football scholarship at Tranmere Rovers FC. “Unfortunately, I had ongoing back problems and spent a lot of time in the treatment room. Seeing different injuries, treatment techniques and being genuinely interested in my own rehabilitation, I started to seriously consider physiotherapy as a career if football didn’t work out.”

Danny was part of the Professional Football Association (PFA) and had heard that they could help fund students to study physiotherapy at the University of Salford. 

He completed the course part-time, allowing him to continue playing at a semi-professional level during his studies. “There was a lot going on and I did struggle along the way at times, as most students do, with balancing university work and other external demands. Credit to the university though, especially the physiotherapy team – without their support I definitely wouldn’t have achieved what I did.”

Danny has also been recognised with the Richard Butler Memorial Award, a prize given to the student who achieves the highest mark in their degree compared with their entry qualifications. Physiotherapy student Richard sadly passed away during his studies, and the award was created when his family and cohort decided to do something in his memory. 

Danny explained: “It was a massive surprise and it's something that I am very grateful for, particularly with the story behind it. I started my football scholarship when I was 16 and had to leave school, so I missed out on getting my A-Levels. Coming straight from that environment into university-level study was a bit daunting at first, so winning this award is something I am very proud of.

“I’m so proud to now be graduating with a first in physiotherapy – this was my end goal when I started here four years ago, so it really feels like all the work I’ve put in has paid off!”

Danny has now been offered a job at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital as a rotational physiotherapist, and says he is looking forward to joining the NHS. “Studying at the University of Salford was a life changing opportunity for me, if I hadn’t come here I genuinely don’t know where I would be today in terms of a career. Now I can’t wait to get started in my new role. Long term I hope to maybe work abroad or in sport, maybe both!”