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"I joined FIFA to effect change in football around the world," claims Andy Massey

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Andy Massey (left), during his time with Liverpool, has recently started his new role as FIFA's Director of Medical services

Andy Massey (left), during his time with Liverpool, has recently started his new role as FIFA's Director of Medical services

PA

Andy Massey (left), during his time with Liverpool, has recently started his new role as FIFA's Director of Medical services

Northern Ireland's Andy Massey has only just settled into his role as the Director of FIFA's Medical department, but the former Liverpool FC doctor wants to have a major influence on football worldwide.

Massey, who left the Anfield club to take up his new role earlier this week, will be responsible for improving the health of all who play football, from grassroots to elite level around the world as well as overseeing medical services at FIFA tournaments.

The role will especially focus on preventing injuries on the field of play and promoting football as a healthy leisure activity.

While this week will have, understandably, been about getting his feet under the table and settling in, Massey admits he wants to have a big impact on the health and safety of football around the globe.

An experienced medical professional in the sporting landscape having worked with Linfield FC, the IFA and Liverpool FC, as well as a brief spell with ice hockey team the Belfast Giants, there are few more suited to the role than Massey.

And having taken on the new role, Massey admits he is relishing the chance to get stuck into a project that affects footballers across the world rather than just a small group of players at one club.

"From a medical perspective this position gives an opportunity to effect change," Massey told FIFA's official website.

"The work of a physician at club level focuses on 25 players and offers little chance to effect the broader public. FIFA can have an influence that spans across all continents, looking at football as an activity with potential underlying health benefits.

"With its central position, FIFA can contribute to the improvement of global health performance through the promotion of best practise over the entire football pyramid. I see it as FIFA’s role to keep the sport and players safe, and this can be done with a special focus on education."

Massey also has practical football experience having played in the Irish League for several years as well as working on the medical staff at both club and international level over the years.

However, it is the work he has done at other levels that he feels makes him the perfect person to undertake the role as Director of Medical with football's governing body, and the Bangor man is championing scientific research to bring the sport to the next level of player safety.

"I have been a footballer and then team doctor at national team level and at one of the top clubs, but I also have background as a sports physician at academy level and in women’s football. So I have a very broad experience in terms of clinical health management of players at all levels of football," explained Massey.

"This knowledge of the field reality is key. As a scientist I strongly believe in the value of scientific based research to form the base for the development of policies and practises. This is the approach I want to follow at FIFA, knowing that FIFA is a global brand with a global reach."

Belfast Telegraph