WHEN Paddy McCourt first arrived through the doors of Celtic’s state-of-the-art training centre at Lennoxtown in 2008, he was introduced to a new world of sports science and professionalism.
The ex-Derry City star explains the emphasis on nutrition, preparation, injury prevention and recovery before a ball is even kicked at training and how they are crucial ingredients for a footballer in the modern game.
When I moved to Barnsley and then Brighton it was the exact same. It’s not just Celtic or Man United, Liverpool or Man City, it’s filtered down now to all the teams in every league.Paddy McCourt
“On a typical day you would go in the morning and the first thing you’re handed is a urine bottle and they would test it and if you’re not hydrated properly they would give you a certain amount of drink before you would be allowed to train.
“They then give you an i-pad in the next room with a wellness app which asks you how you slept the night before, what you ate, how much you ate, what time did you ate at, etc.
“You then have to see the physio who screens you. The sports scientists would then come and give you four or five tablets - I never asked what they were,” he laughed. “I took them for five years but never asked.
“It was just crazy the changes from when I was 17 at Rochdale and then at Celtic six or seven years on. You got into the club at 9 a.m but never got training until 11a.m. and you didn’t have five minutes to yourself.
“You had breakfast and lunch which was all measured portions. It was just night and day to what I was used to. It was very easy to adapt to that lifestyle because everything was done for you.
“Every gym session was structured. You would have 40 minutes in the gym 72 hours before a game and then it was all football leading up to the game.
“When I moved to Barnsley and then Brighton it was the exact same. It’s not just Celtic or Man United, Liverpool or Man City, it’s filtered down now to all the teams in every league. The emphasis now on your body being 100 per cent before you go on the pitch on a Saturday is key. Everything has to be working, from hydration to your body, everything.”