Skip to main content

Former footballer graduates as qualified physiotherapist

Thursday 8 December 2016

A former Nottingham Forest defender who was forced into early retirement after a traumatic head injury has graduated as a physio from The University of Salford.

John Thompson, 35, who also played for Notts County FC and Oldham Athletic FC, suffered a severe injury in a friendly match whilst playing for Mansfield Town in 2011.

He decided to enrol on the University of Salford’s part time four year Physiotherapy course, partly funded by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

He will now graduate with a 2:1 and experience in industry from undertaking several successful physiotherapy placements.

John said: “I am excited to be graduating. The course has been brilliant and time has flown very quickly. I chose to do my degree at Salford because of its good reputation, and also quite a few retired footballers come here to train as physiotherapists.

“When I was forced into early retirement, at first I found it tough physically and mentally. I tried to get back playing football as before but was unsuccessful, but through the course I learnt that physiotherapy was a career that I wanted to pursue”.

During his course, John has been given the opportunity to undertake several industry placements, including one for six weeks as a physio at his former club Nottingham Forest, and a string of placements within the NHS”.

“It can be difficult sometimes for me to juggle my placements with my personal training business and raising my young daughter Darcey. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife Laura, my family, my personal tutor Wendy Monroe and the PFA.

I have made some great friends on this course, not least fellow ex- footballers Robert Duffy and Gary Silk who graduated recently. Being a mature student means that I have been out of the education system for a long time, but the lecturers at Salford University definitely made things easier for me.”  

Wendy Munro, Programme Leader BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy for the part time route said:

“I’m delighted to see John graduate this winter. He joined our programme after retiring from a very successful career as a professional footballer. I have seen him apply the same determination and willingness to succeed as he did in his football to his studies. He has used the flexibility of the part time programme where he has been able to defer clinical placements to juggle his own business, family life, academic study and placement experience to complete the programme successfully.

I think he would agree that the programme has opened up his eyes to the wider scope of Physiotherapy than that he had previously experienced as a player." 

John considers himself lucky that he was able to be a professional footballer for fifteen years, and offers some advice to young footballers today.  

“There is definitely life after football, but when footballers retire there isn’t always a huge amount out there for them other than coaching. My advice would be for footballers to contact the PFA and get a plan in place. I was lucky to have played football for fifteen years, but many footballers find their career is shorter than that.”

John is currently deciding whether to begin a career as a health physiotherapist within the NHS or as a sports physiotherapist.  He graduated in the ceremony for the School of Health Sciences.

Find out more

Victoria Barker

0161 295 4779