Dr Richard Steadman is a very lucky man. Working from his Vail Clinic high up in the mountains of Colorado, he has somehow managed to attract the distant but extremely lucrative trade of the Premier League.
Dr Steadman has acquired a global reputation as the finest knee surgeon that money can buy for his work with the US ski team and now every time a Premiership footballer suffers a knee injury that requires surgery, Steadman is the man they look to.
Why is this? Every football club must be well aware that the procedures can be performed in England with the same success? Several of my friends have undergone extensive knee ligament surgery and not one of them has felt the need to leave England and every one of them is now playing football again, and this is without the professional physio and rehab work players would undoubtedly receive.
Steadman is not the only doctor to profit from the Premiership’s bizarre disdain for England’s clearly capable surgeons. Rather than look nearby, the League prefers to send its players around the world. If you have a hip problem Dr Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, nicknamed the “Svengali of Munich”, is the man to see, whilst Marijana Kovacevic leapt into the limelight a couple of years ago when the press suddenly discovered that many of the world’s leading players were visiting her in Serbia to receive her horse placenta treatment.
The reason for this expensive and unnecessary exodus, (there may not be many horse placenta surgeons in England, so I’ll have to accept that one) may of course just be another consequence of the vast amounts of money in football. If you pay a player £150,000 a week, you would do well to get him the finest doctors and money is certainly no object for some clubs. If this is the thinking behind the trend, it is misguided. There is absolutely no reason why you would need to send a player to Colorado for knee surgery, or Munich for a hernia.
Even Owen Hargreaves, whose knees were some of the worst Steadman had ever seen, could have had his surgery in the UK. It may sound glamorous and professional to send all your players over to the States to get treatment but in reality it is more costly and inconvenient.
I’m sure all these fabulous Svengali’s do an excellent job, but if English doctors can give Wayne Rooney a full head of hair, nothing is beyond them.