25 Jul, 2018
The fitness expert who’s making sure World Cup stars don’t run out of steam in Russia.
COACHES and aspiring young footballers have been cheering for “one of their own” during the World Cup as a somewhat unsung hero plays his part in trying to help guide England to glory.
Fans danced deliriously in the street, while manager Gareth Southgate roared alongside his players, albeit briefly, before quickly regaining his astute composure, after the Three Lions overcame Colombia on Tuesday night to book a quarter-final date with Sweden this Saturday.
But for one member of the squad, the test of extra-time, and the additional 30 minutes in the Moscow heat that came with it – not to mention then finding the energy to take penalties – was one that he’d prepared England for.
Dr Ben Rosenblatt, who lives in Queen’s Crescent, has been putting captain Harry Kane and his team-mates through their paces in Russia. As the FA’s leading physical performance and fitness coach, it’s his job to make sure they are ready to fight fatigue and tackle the challenges that come with trying to win the World Cup.
Dr Rosenblatt, who went to school in Hampstead, knows all there is to know about competing in a gruelling international knockout competition. In 2002 he was part of the Under-17s King’s Cross Lithgow and Camden United FC squad that won a bronze medal at the Dana Cup in Denmark.
And when it comes to mastering his man-management skills and helping players become the best athletes they can be, what better place to hone his skills than at the artificial football pitches at Market Road in Islington. That’s where Dr Rosenblatt enjoyed countless hours working with youngsters from Pro Touch Soccer Academy.
One of his first ever managers, Ash Rahman, who also founded Pro Touch, said he wasn’t surprised by the meteoric rise to the top.
“Once upon time I coached and managed him during his teens,” said Mr Rahman. “He was part of my early days as head coach of King’s Cross Lithgow and Camden United FC.
“I took over the team from Nash Ali, who is now a local councillor for Regent’s Park and was the former Mayor of Camden.
“It was my first experience at being a coach, and Ben was my captain, and a real leader, as well as the best goalkeeper I’ve ever worked with.”
Dr Rosenblatt boasts an impressive CV, having worked as a senior rehabilitation scientist and strength and conditioning coach for the British Olympic Association, the English Institute of Sport and Birmingham City FC. Sitting among the honours and accolades that he has received over the years is even an Olympic gold medal, which he won as part of the Women’s GB hockey team’s coaching set-up.
“When he left Birmingham City he came back and joined me at Pro Touch as head of fitness and performance,” said Mr Rahman.
“He has supported many young people and coaches over the years, and still acts as a mentor to many of the past and present coaches and players today.
“He’s gained fantastic knowledge and experiences, and it speaks volumes that he’s always willing to share that with young people and to give up his time.
“We’re all proud to call him one of our own, and I look forward to meeting up with him when he gets back so he can tell me all about Russia.”