Corby ex-football physio reveals all in riveting autobiography featuring Gazza, Spurs, the Hatters and more

John Sheridan's memoir is an instant best seller

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 5:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th October 2021, 5:42 pm

Corby man John Sheridan has written a riveting autobiography revealing all that goes on behind the scenes in professional football – and his personal take on controversial ex-England star Paul Gascoigne.

The popular former Luton Town physio has left no stone unturned in this searingly honest account.

It started off as a memoir for his four grandchildren who wanted to know about his career on the celebrity football circuit.

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A message of thanks from Gazza

Glasgow-born John moved to Corby with his carer wife Betty five years ago to be nearer their three children – Paul, Andy and Debbie.

John, 78, recalls: “It took me about 14 months during lockdown, writing in longhand. Once I started, the memories came flooding back.

“Then I started to think laterally – it wasn’t only about football but also about life after overcoming a disability. I asked my son Paul what he felt and he said I should get it published.”

His labour of love - The ‘Limping’ Physio - is a classic tale of triumph over tragedy.

John looking thoughtful whilst enjoying the famous old pipe

John suffered from osteomyelitis as a youngster and coming home from school one day, the bus jolted and he fell down the stairs and hit his hip on the platform.

He says: “I picked myself up and then fell over the garden wall at home. It turned out I’d broken my femur in three places.”

His left leg was four inches shorter than his right and he wore built-up shoes for several years, before having major surgery to shorten the good leg.

The operation was followed by 14 months in hospital while John was taught to walk again. And from being a strapping lad of 6ft 1in, he shrank to 5ft 9in.

John having a chat with the referee whilst treating Brian Stein

He shrugs: “I had a limp, but it wasn’t as pronounced as it had been before.

“I knew I’d never play again but I’ve always been a very positive person and I knew I wanted to work in football.”

He’d done industrial first aid at Vauxhall in Luton, where he’d been employed as a tool maker. And from there he started studying physiotherapy.

He credits then-Hatters manager David Pleat (who wrote the foreword) with giving him a chance and then taking him on to Tottenham.

John, second left, with the backroom team with the Division 2 Championship trophy in 1982

John recalls: “Going from amateur football to the league was a major leap up.”

He continued doing block courses and finally qualified as a chartered physiotherapist, specialising in sports injuries.

He was involved in the rehabilitation of Gazza – Footballer of the Year in 1990 – and won’t hear a word against him.

He says: “He’s a smashing bloke, absolutely first class. Very generous, very loyal, very likable.

“A lot of what’s said about him is just not true. I can only speak of him as I found him. I still think of him as an icon – a marvellous footballer and a marvellous man.”

And he’s also full of praise for Pleat: “He wanted to make Luton a family club. It was a very happy team and I loved working there.”

Physio John Sheridan puts Gazza through his paces

His dream was to run on to the pitch at Wembley and he achieved it twice – against Coventry in 1987 when Tottenham lost, and again in 1991 when they won against Nottingham Forest.

John and Betty met at a wedding and it was love at first sight. They’ve been married for 52 years and John firmly believes no-one in football can survive without a strong marriage.

“You need a stable family to come home to,” he explains. “If you don’t have that, it’s very easy to go the wrong way once the game’s over.”

The ‘Limping’ Physio by John Sheridan (Pitch Publishing Ltd) is available at all major book shops and on Amazon.

Pre-match preparations with Luton goalkeeper Jake Findlay