ONLINE POLL: Sports psychiatrist can assist England if players buy into it, says client Gerrard

Steven Gerrard (Picture: PA Wire).
Steven Gerrard (Picture: PA Wire).
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STEVEN GERRARD last night revealed that the sports psychiatrist who will help England prepare for Brazil 2014 has been working closely with him since 2010.

Dr Steve Peters, whose previous clients include five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and the all-conquering Great Britain cycling team, has been drafted in to prepare Roy Hodgson’s men ahead of the World Cup.

The England manager met with Peters for the first time on Sunday and is delighted to have on board a figure who played a key role in Team GB’s extraordinary track cycling success at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.

He has also worked with Tour de France winners Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

Gerrard, the national team’s captain, first met Peters almost four years ago after suffering a nasty groin injury that kept the Liverpool man out for several months.

He said: “I have been seeing him since 2010 and I do feel as if he has really helped me. Not so much with the technical side of the game, but with what is going on in your head and the mental preparation.

“He has helped me with big injuries that I have had over the last couple of years. I had a groin avulsion – which is where your groin muscle comes off the bone – and it is a career-threatening injury.

“For six to eight weeks, I saw three or four surgeons and they weren’t really convincing me that I could maybe play again. So, I turned to him.

“Without being a drama queen, it was a very important stage in my career. I think it was one of the physios at Liverpool that suggested I might need a bit of help from a psychologist and I said, ‘Who’s the best?’

“I was told he was the best. I went to see him and I can only speak very highly of my private one-on-ones with him and the work I have done with him this year. I have been able to see him a lot more at the club. He comes in one day a week and I have got a fantastic relationship with him.”

Outside assistance and the England national team have not been the best of bedfellows in the past thanks, in the main, to Glenn Hoddle’s drafting in of Eileen Drewery during his reign as manager.

Drewery, a faith healer who had helped Hoddle in his own playing career, was a figure that the then squad failed to embrace.

Times, though, have changed since Ray Parlour’s response to Drewery placing her hands on his shoulders before a spiritual session was to joke, ‘Short back and sides, please, Eileen’.

Asked if Peters could help the current squad, Gerrard said: “I hope so. I don’t think there are any guarantees.

“I don’t want anyone to sit in here and think that Steve Peters has transformed me as a person or a player. When I did go and see him I was still playing for Liverpool and for England.

“I am quite mentally strong with my preparation any way. But the way I look at it is if I can gain a little edge or use it as a tool to help me gain one to three per cent, why not use it?

“That is what I was thinking at the time when I was injured, and the reason I didn’t stop seeing him when I was back fit is because I enjoyed the work with him and thought I could maybe use some of the work and the methods when I get back playing. That is what I have done.

“We are not going to become favourites for the World Cup because we have got a psychiatrist on board, but, if players buy into it and everyone can gain that extra one, two, three per cent it might be needed and it can only help us.”

Asked about Peters’s methods, Gerrard added: “He just simplifies what’s going on. I don’t know whether you have read his book (The Chimp Paradox).

“But I read the book and had one-on-one meetings with him and I basically understand the different parts of the brain, how they work, when they function and why you think certain things, why you bite your children’s heads off from time to time, blame (wife) Alex for everything and blah, blah, blah.

“He does simplify things and I am a lot more patient as a person now and I think I’ve improved as a person. He has also helped me with the game as well.”