After the recent Crystal Palace vs Liverpool game, I spoke to Doctor Zafar Iqbal, consultant in sports and exercise medicine who has worked in professional football since 2005 and in the Premier League since 2007. Formerly at Liverpool Football Club and currently Head of Sports Medicine at Crystal Palace.
Do you think more needs to be done about head injuries in football?
It is improving whereby there are better management plans in place and also the opportunity to review injuries shortly after they have happened on video replays and report back to the clinical assessing.
Can referees in England do more to protect football players?
I think so. I may be biased but I have seen at Spurs, Liverpool and Crystal Players where certain players important to the team would be targeted and blatantly fouled in an attempt . There have been plenty of instances where a player has been injured and the offending player makes out as if the injured player has dived. At the same time it is very difficult for referees as they have to make instantaneous decisions. Maybe there should be a bigger punishment if a player attempts to injure a fellow professional?
How important is a strict diet for footballers?
Very. Important not only to help them perform and maintain an appropriate weight but also post training and games and when trying to recover from an injury.
Is it hard knowing the club have signed a player but you’re unable to say anything to anyone?
Not at all. It is my job and confidentiality is everything. Numerous instances where Medicals have been done and no one has ever found out it has been done or being done. I do find it funny when fans comment or make statements about who they’ve seen having a medical…
Can Crystal Palace break into the top 10 this season?
That would be great but staying in the Premier league is everything.
Wilfried Zaha gets into a few challenges, how does he recover to make sure he’s ready for the next game?
Everyone knows Wilfs qualities and he is without doubt one of the most skillful players I have seen and I have been fortunate to have witnessed training of some amazing players including Suarez, Modric, Gerrard, Coutinho, Bale etc. He does get targeted a lot but he is quite a robust player but I wish people could see his legs after games showing the amount of kicks he gets.
Can Liverpool win the Premier League this season?
Yes. I think they are strong in all areas now and that front 3 is as good as anyone else in Europe. The football they play as well is brilliant. I hope they do it!
Best game you’ve been involved with at Liverpool?
There are several with individual moments and memories for me due to build up but the one that I really enjoyed was Liverpool vs Arsenal on 8th Feb 2014 at Anfield, where Liverpool were 4-0 up in the first 20 minutes. It was some of the most incisive and brilliant football I’d ever seen.
Best club manager you’ve worked with?
I wouldn’t want to be disrespectful to any of the managers that I have worked with to single anyone out that I’ve worked with at Tottenham, Liverpool and Crystal Palace. They’ve all had their qualities in different ways. If I was really pushed then the two I’d have to mention would be working with King Kenny which was amazing as he was someone I admired growing up and I loved Brendan Rodgers style of football and training.
Thank you Dr. Zaf for taking the time out of your routine to answer these questions. Hopefully you have a successful season!
Written by Vilson Beiqi