Dr Ian Beasley discusses his role as team doctor to the England Men’s football team

Dr Ian Beasley is a consultant of sports medicine working at BMI The London Independent and Blackheath Hospitals. We recently caught up with him to discuss his role as medical adviser/officer to the Royal Balletbut this time we discussed his role as team doctor to the England Men’s football team and got his advice on avoiding or dealing with common footballing injuries. You can also find Dr Beasley at BMI Healthcare’s Blackheath Sports Injury Clinic.

Can you tell us about your role as team doctor to the England men’s football team?

I started working with England in 2009, having been at Arsenal FC for seven years.  

I was appointed Head of Medical Services for the Football Association, which included arranging care for all 24 teams that the FA run. This was on top of all policy work and medical advice for the professional and ‘grass roots’ game, so concussion guidelines, cardiac screening and pitch side care all came under my umbrella.

I also arranged and supervised medical care for the senior men’s team for all fixtures and the world cups in South Africa and Brazil, and the EUROs in Poland/Ukraine and France. 

Ian Beasley

Dr Ian Beasley

Sports Physician 

MBBS, MRCGP, MSc, Dip Sports Med, FFSEM(UK)

Can you share any interesting stories during your time as team doctor with England?

There are loads of interesting stories as you can imagine. My job when leaving the hotel for training or to go to a match was to count the players on the bus, so we didn't leave anyone behind. In Brazil, we were leaving for training with a large police escort, and just pulling out onto the road, when someone shouted, ‘where’s ****?’.

I had miscounted and the bus couldn’t reverse as there was a convoy of security vehicles so we blocked the road for 10 minutes before the player appeared. It’s not something I was allowed to forget in a hurry… i.e. never!


Why do you think the England football team struggle at tournament finals?

I think the weight of expectation is great. When you look at the figures, our players suffer more injuries in January, probably because of the very congested Christmas programme. We should try a break, it would help as much with mental, as physical rest.  

How do you help football players overcome their injuries and get back on the pitch as quickly as possible?

The basic approach is no different to any other clinical setting, however the pressures are different. Getting a player back on the pitch two or three days earlier may mean that they score a goal, that may mean a trophy, or a place or two higher in the league, which is worth a fair sum of money.

Making the diagnosis is of course the first thing and usually video of an injury is available, which with examination, guides investigation.

From then, involving the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) in management is most important and this may involve specialists outside the club.

A plan is formulated, prognosis is agreed.  Once the player has approved the communication, the manager and coaching staff are informed of the situation. Regular MDT meetings are held to review progress.If things don’t appear to be going as planned, a review of everything is undertaken.

What are the most common injuries you common across?


Figure 1. The Nordic Hamstring Exercise from Fifa 11+ Warm-Up

The biggest injury studies carried out have been by Prof Jan Ekstrand at UEFA. Most club medical officers agree with him that hamstring injuries are the most common.

The real problem is that this is often an ‘overload’ injury. In a week where teams play one weekend, midweek, then the next weekend, they often enter a period of fatigue/vulnerability.

One way to mitigate this is to use the Nordic hamstring exercise when warming up. The FIFA 11+ warm-up includes this exercise, which has shown to reduce the incidence of hamstring injury. 

For more information on The FIFA 11+ warm-up, click here http://f-marc.com/11plus/downloads/

What are the worst injuries you have you had to deal with?

The worst injury I’ve had to deal with was Eduardo’s open ankle fracture, at Birmingham City. I spent the whole time with him and his wife when he injured himself. His recovery took a long time, but he got back to playing and I went out to Brazil to see him rehabilitating.

Are there any differences between the types or severity of injuries the professionals get to those who play casually?

I would say that weekend players suffer more ankle and knee injuries. Severity can vary, and is measured by time off from playing.

It should be remembered that at professional clubs, players get treatment and rehabilitation every day, which most recreational players don’t have access to, never mind sophisticated imaging techniques and MDT assessments as we have at Blackheath. 

Football injury

How can players treat minor injuries themselves or avoid injuries in the first place?

I recommend rest, ice, compression and elevation as first aid, then I would see a physiotherapist. You can seek advice on the diagnosis and the stages of recovery and rehabilitation.

Can you tell us more about your role at the Blackheath Sports Injury Clinic and how the clinic helps patients?

This clinic revolves around patients being seen holistically on presentation. In practical terms, this means being seen and assessed by myself, orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Amer Khan, and a physiotherapist, together.

All investigations are carried out on the day. This way, decisions are made quicker and save the patient from coming in for several appointments. The idea is that the patient will leave the clinic with a management plan.

What does a usual week entail for you?

I left England after the EUROs, and now work at the London Independent Hospital  and Blackheath Hospital  on Mondays.

Tuesday is spent at Manchester City’s training ground, where I am reviewing academy medical policy and auditing practices at the clubs they are involved with in Japan, Australia and the USA. 

On Wednesdays I work at the London Broncos RFL team, and the Centennial Medical Centre in Elstree.

Thursday afternoon, I work at the Royal Ballet Company in Covent Garden where I’ve been going for nearly nine years now. I hold a clinic with physiotherapy, nutrition, Pilates and strength and conditioning colleagues. We have an ultrasound machine there, and I can identify/demonstrate pathology so that dancers can benefit from the vast expertise in-house.

Friday mornings, I see English National Ballet Students at the Institute for Sport Exercise and Health.

Find out more about our sports injury clinics and physiotherapy services or make an online enquiry

You may also like…

Here are the top three risk factors, and the top three protective factors associated with the disease. Read more

It can take hold quickly and spread like wildfire. So what’s the best way of preventing norovirus? Read more

Mr Pradip Javle, Consultant Urological Surgeon, talks about some of the common changes in a man’s health that you should keep an eye on: Read more