Legendary 'Limping Physio' John Sheridan shrank four inches, saved Gazza's career and won respect of Fergie & Paisley

Legendary 'Limping Physio' John Sheridan shrank four inches, saved Gazza's career and won respect of Fergie & Paisley

LEGENDARY former Luton physio John Sheridan believes he would never have been employed in top-level football today… because of his limp.

Sheridan, 78, was a popular figure during two spells at Kenilworth Road after endearing himself to the Hatters faithful and is affectionately nicknamed The Limping Physio.

Luton born-and-bred, he had to stop playing football aged 14 after breaking his left thighbone in three places.

And because this injury happened while he was still growing, his right leg ended up four inches longer that the left one.

So Sheridan had an operation to SHORTEN his right leg by cutting some of the thighbone and reconnecting it with a metal plate.

Although not as bad as it was, he could only limp – but even that defied logic as it was predicted at one stage he wouldn’t be able to walk.

Sheridan cutting himself a career as a football physio was nothing short of miraculous.

And he has written a book, The Limping Physio: A Life In Football, which went on sale last week.


Sheridan told SunSport: “I ended up shrinking from 6ft 1in to 5ft 9in.

"But it was worth it because before the operation I needed a walking stick and realised life wasn’t going to be fun having one leg four inches taller than the other.

“But, because I loved football and couldn’t play anymore, I wanted to do something that kept me involved, at least at amateur level, so I studied anatomy, physiotherapy and first aid.”

Sheridan obtained an FA physiotherapy certificate – and it took him ten years before becoming a chartered physio.

And – as well as working for non-league Tring Town – he was teaching physiotherapy and lecturing for the FA and the local education authority.

Then his life changed forever when receiving a call from legendary ex-Luton boss David Pleat.

Sheridan said: “I had no thoughts about going into league football. It was a fluke.

“I did a lot of work for the FA and was doing the England schoolboys.

“Then one day I got a call from David, who had lost his physio, and he said he had been in touch with the FA and they recommended me!

“He invited me for an interview. I told him, ‘You don’t want me – there are better people out there who are able-bodied.’

“But the more I tried to put him off, the more he wanted me.

“The interview went well but I said to him, ‘I’ll do the reserves because I don’t know how the fans are going to react when I run on to the field. Will they take the Mickey because I limp?’

“He rang me later and said, ‘The job is yours, I’m not going to interview anybody else.’

“That was the late 1970s and I ended up doing more than 1,000 league games.”

Sheridan quickly became recognisable as he limped onto some of the most famous football pitches to treat injured stars.

And he explained how he got the crowd on his side, saying: “You’ll always get stick so you appease the crowd. I’d bow to them.

“So for example when I went to Old Trafford of Anfield I’d simulate doffing my cap. It worked and I got good receptions.

“The big thing I remember was all these great football figures knowing who I was and coming over for a chat.

“I’d go to Old Trafford and Alex Ferguson would say, ‘Hello John, how you’re doing?’ Or I’d have a chat with Bobby Robson.

“Bob Paisley and then Joe Fagan invited me into the Anfield boot room. I was in awe and thought, ‘How have I managed to be here in their company?’”

Sheridan followed Pleat to Tottenham in 1986 and famously was the man who rehabilitated Paul Gascoigne after he injured his cruciate ligaments in the FA Cup final against Nottingham Forest in 1991.

Gazza credits Sheridan for 'saving my career' and Tottenham also owed him a huge debt for helping him complete his £5.5m move to Lazio a year later. The club, who were in financial meltdown, needed the cash.

It is a well-documented story and Sheridan goes into huge detail in his book.

But he told me: “Gazza was a pleasure to work with. We spent a year together and it was intense.

"I had the media around my house almost all the time asking for updates. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him, being one of the world’s most famous footballers.

“I never doubted he’d play again and Lazio asked if I’d work for them – but by that stage I was so tired and politely declined.”

Sheridan worked with Pleat again at Luton and also briefly for Glenn Hoddle at Chelsea before bowing out of football to focus on his private practice.

He said: “I was fortunate. I doubt I’d be recruited as a top-flight physio nowadays, you must be super fit to have that role and not be limping about.

“The work I did at Luton alone was what about 14 or more do now at these top clubs. Spurs will have a huge team of people. When I was there it was just me and my assistant Dave Butler. We rarely got a day off.

“But I never regret working in football – they were great days.”

Rowett's a trend-setter

GARY ROWETT hilariously hit back at Nottingham Forest fans who poked fun at his trainers – insisting: I’m a trend-setter.

Forest supporters chanted, “Your trainers are s***, your trainers are s***, you are Gary Rowett and your trainers are s***.”

The former Derby boss – sporting his navy blue sneakers – spoke to me after his Millwall side were held 1-1 at the City Ground.

And he said: “I’ve seen members of the Forest media team wearing the same trainers as me two years later!

“I’m a trend-setter actually!”

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