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Dave Fevre’s magical United memories


MEN AT WORK Former Manchester Utd physio Dave Fevre is pictured with Roy Keane.

Former Manchester United physio Dave Fevre is coming to Mayo

Edwin McGreal

HE was infamously accused of feigning injury in Saipan in 2002, but according to his former physiotherapist at Manchester United, there was few players like Roy Keane for playing through the pain threshold.
Dave Fevre is coming to Castlebar later this month for one-to-one consultations at Martin McIntyre’s Sports Injury and Sports Medicine clinic in Castlebar.
And with the Republic of Ireland Assistant Manager Keane currently embroiled in a controversy over comments made about Harry Arter’s injury problems, the experienced Blackburn-based physio’s comments make for interesting reading.
“I think you’d have to be a very brave person to say Roy faked injury,” Fevre told The Mayo News in response to a question about Mick McCarthy’s comments to Keane in Saipan that he had feigned injury by not playing in the second leg of Ireland’s World Cup play-off in Iran.
“I never had that experience with him in the five years I worked with him. He would do anything to get fit. His attitude to rehab, training was phenomenal. He was brilliant.”
Fevre rates Keane and Damien Duff, whom he worked with at Blackburn Rovers, as two of the best players he has dealt with in terms of recovering from injuries.
“If Roy was telling you he was injured, he was. Obviously the major one was his cruciate (in 1997). I was there when it happened. His attitude once we knew the problem, which was within a few hours, was ‘right, let’s get on with it, let’s get working’.
“Like with Damien, Roy was top class. If every player I worked with were as good as Roy and Damien, it would make my life a lot easier,” added Fevre.
He said in the 1990s that he often wondered about footballers like Keane and Steve Bruce at Manchester United and their pain threshold.
“Their ability to play on through pain and injury makes me wonder whether they’ve got any nerve-endings, any feeling at all,” he said at the time.
In his most recent autobiography, Keane recalled himself and Ruud van Nistelrooy carrying injuries ahead of the 2004 FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal.
Keane played, Van Nistelrooy didn’t, but Keane looks back at the incident as an example of him being reckless with his body.
“Ruud ended up playing in Spain until he was 39 and he still looks 21. And I thought I was the idiot … I was conditioned to think that not playing if you weren’t 100 percent fit was a sign of weakness and that you should be strong and play when you were injured. But the clever lads won’t be limping around when they’re 45 and they won’t be having hip replacements,” said Keane.
Dave Fevre argues that in the modern game, attitudes might have went too far the other way and that there is a balance between Keane’s attitude in the 1990s and how some players sit out games now.
“I think there’s a danger we might go too far the other way. I think it is knowing what the injury is and whether you can play on with it or not. If it is a problem with a shoulder or an elbow you might be able to get away with it. If you’ve got a dead leg and it’s painful, but you still have full movement, then you can still play. It’s getting that balance and having good and correct diagnosis and making a proper clinical decision on what the problem is.”

Ferguson and Beckham
FEVRE worked with the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson for six years at Manchester United.
“The Gaffer was brilliant. He was a great guy to work for, very respectful of what you did, as long as you worked hard he was fine.”
Apart from Keane, certain players jump out for Fevre when he thinks back on his time at United.
“In terms of physical fitness, people always under-rated David Beckham’s but he never missed training, he was rarely injured. His attitude to training was he was like a kid in a sweet shop. He just loved to get in every day and train.
“You’d dedicated players like Gary and Phil Neville. Scholesy (Paul Scholes) just wanted to play football, nothing else mattered. Nicky Butt was another local lad who just wanted to play for United and wear that shirt.”
Fevre left for Blackburn Rovers in 1999 after United won the treble of the Champions League, Premiership and FA Cup.
“That was probably the big reason why I left because you couldn’t really outdo that season. It was a great time to move on to different things.”

Revolving door
FEVRE went from the stability of a long-serving manager at Old Trafford (Ferguson was in charge for 27 years) to a revolving door at Blackburn where he worked under an incredible sixteen managers in his 17 years at the club, until he left in 2017.
“You learn something from every manager you work with, so I think it made me a better physio by learning lots of different things from lots of different managers like Graham Souness, Mark Hughes, Sam Allardyce, Paul Lambert etc. I learned lots of things that were really important in my development as a physio. I think if I stayed at United I wouldn’t have developed as much. Everyone of those guys has something extra.”
He worked with Irish players like Keane and Denis Irwin at Manchester United, and the likes of Duff, Jeff Kenna, Keith Andrews, Darragh Lenihan and Alan Judge at Blackburn.
Now working in a freelance capacity — he was just leaving Blackburn Rovers where he was giving a teaching session when we spoke — Fevre was over with Martin McIntyre earlier in the year where he treated 12 sportspeople from GAA, rugby and soccer backgrounds.
“We will try to give them an idea what the diagnosis is and then we can say what they need to do from there, be it rehab, surgery and look at the timescale,” he said.
He noted a lot of problems with Gaelic footballers, particularly younger players, playing effectively 12 months of the year and, like Keane, playing on with injuries when they should be resting.
“Those who I met, their attitudes were brilliant but playing all year around, to be exposed to that, the body cannot take that. It’s just not possible. It is obviously something the sport needs to look at because it will affect the longevity of the players,” he warned.

Get in touch
DAVE Fevre will be at Martin McIntyre’s Sports Injuries and Sports Medicine Clinic in Moneen Industrial Estate, Castlebar on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23 and 24. There will be a limited number of one-to-one consultations to address troublesome injuries. Booking essential. To book call 094 9020005 or email martin@sism.ie.