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Dr Andrew Shafik — Working as a Doctor in English Football — Injury Rehab Network

The second Injury Rehab Network event of April 2024 with BASRaT featured a presentation from Dr Andrew Shafik, Club Doctor Crystal Palace FC. The online event took place on the evening of Monday, 29th April, with 100 sports rehabilitation practitioners in attendance.

Dr Shafik discussed the role of a club doctor in elite football. The recording is available to watch here.

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Dr Andrew Shafik, Club Doctor Crystal Palace FC

Andrew was educated at the University of Aberdeen, where he graduated with a Medical degree and Sport & Exercise Science degree.

He also pursued further studies, achieving a distinction in an MSc in Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Leeds, where he was awarded the Sport & Exercise Medicine prize for 2020/2021. He also holds a Diploma in MSK Medicine and is a Member of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine.

He went on to work in football at Gateshead FC and Newcastle United FC Academy before moving down south and working as Lead Academy Doctor at Millwall FC and as a doctor at Chelsea FC. He has previously worked with Aberdeen FC academy as well as in athletics, golf, rugby, and basketball. Andrew is now currently a Club Doctor at Crystal Palace FC and is studying a PgCert in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound.

Andrew has a special interest in football medicine and performance education with roles as Senior Editor and Podcast Lead at the FMPA, Assistant Secretary at the FA Medical Society and a Professional Development Advisor/Teaching Fellow at the University of Bath’s MSc in Football Medicine in partnership with FIFA.

Football Players

Working as a Doctor in English Football

Andrew provided a summary of the contents of his presentation, including the role of the football club doctor, academy, women’s and men’s football, matchday medical co-ordinator and research. Andrew noted that the role varies in different countries and in different environments.

Dr Shafik discussed his clinical experience, including roles in the academy, women’s and men’s professional football in Scotland and England at Aberdeen FC, Gateshead FC, Newcastle United, Millwall FC, Chelsea FC and Crystal Palace FC. Andrew’s academic experience includes work with the University of Leeds, the University of Bath, the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK, the FA Medical Society and FMPA.

The Role of a Football Club Doctor

Dr Shafik discussed the role of the football club doctor and showed a clip of the head injury suffered by Ryan Mason. Andrew discussed the high level of care provided by the medical team and practitioners.

For pitch-side immediate care, Andrew described the importance of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and associated training, both within the club environment and through certified National Governing Body (NGB) courses such as Intermediate Trauma Medical Management in Football (ITMMiF) and Advanced Trauma Medical Management in Football (ATMMiF). In rugby, the Pre-Hospital Immediate Care in Sport (PHICIS) course is available.

Dr Shafik considered the management of various injuries and conditions in pitch-side immediate care, including assessment of injuries, airway management, spinal injuries, circulatory problems, sudden cardiac arrest, head injuries, facial injuries, limb-threatening injuries and medical emergencies.

Andrew described common components of the football doctor’s role, including musculoskeletal medicine, concussion, and cardiac screening. Andrew provides support and advice to footballers for the presentation of all illnesses and injuries. Dr Shafik also considered imaging to support the diagnosis and treatment of injuries.

Football Team

Team Care

Andrew discussed the role of team care, where he works as part of a multi-disciplinary team to provide support for injury and illness prevention, nutrition, recovery, event planning, travel, and anti-doping.

Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)

Dr Shafik discussed his role as part of an MDT including practitioners with expertise in rehabilitation, sport and exercise science, strength and conditioning, analysis, podiatry, and biomechanics. Andrew described how the performance and medical teams in different clubs will vary in relation to roles and responsibilities. Some clubs may choose to have a large in-house team with various clinicians or practitioners, whereas others may have a small team that draws on the support of external experts.

Operations and Leadership

Dr Shafik considered the importance of operations and leadership and compared his experiences in the NHS and professional football in relation to medical operations and personal leadership. Andrew has supported the development of the operations manual for the sports science and medicine department at Crystal Palace FC.

Academy Football

Andrew described the priorities of the academy football doctor role including concussion, safeguarding, mental health, youth sports injuries, paediatric illness, development, and maturation.

In considering the role of the football academy doctor, Andrew noted that children should not be viewed and treated as small adults as they are skeletally developing.

When assessing paediatric sports injuries, Dr Shafik discussed the importance of considering a differential diagnosis where there could be potential red flags.

Womens football team

Women’s Football

Dr Shafik discussed some of the areas of work of a women’s team doctor, including the menstrual cycle and performance, kit for women, nutrition in football and RED-S, injury risk and resilience, pelvic health, fertility, women’s health and creating cultivating environments to support the growth of women’s sport.

Men’s Football

Andrew discussed the different types of roles that doctors may have in football, including club doctor, first team doctor, head of medical and/ or head of medical and performance.

Dr Shafik described an example schedule for a football doctor:

  • 7:50 am – Medical and performance team meeting
  • 8:30 am – Player assessments
  • 9 am – Medical meeting with technical staff
  • 10:45 am – Strappings
  • 11:15 am – Prehab
  • 11:30 am – Training
  • 1:30 pm – Lunch
  • 2 pm – Documentation
  • 2:15 pm – Gym
  • 3 pm – Meetings
  • 4 pm – Departmental development
  • 7 pm – Injury update and confirm player report time for assessments

Matchday Medical Coordinator (MMC)

Dr Shafik discussed the role of the football club doctor on matchdays and referred to the BMJ Blog “The Role of the Tunnel Doctor in Football”

Andrew described the responsibilities of the Matchday Medical Coordinator (MM), including clinical governance, background & preparation, pitch-side immediate care, communication, Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) and Significant Event Analysis (SEA).

MDT Approach

Dr Shafik described the various people and practitioners who form the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) in professional football. The MDT includes players, parents, coaches, medical practitioners, sports science and performance, kit man, administrators, security, education, designated safeguarding officers and specialists (e.g. podiatrist or dentist). With so many people involved, Andrew described how effective communication is crucial.

Research and Development

Dr Shafik considered the role of the football doctor in relation to research and development. Andrew provided an example of recent research that he led in relation to concussion attitudes: “Sport-related concussion attitudes and knowledge in elite English female footballers”.

Andrew described his involvement with research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Football Medicine and Performance Association, and FA Medical Society.

Andrew discussed the importance of R&D concerning professional development with practitioners involved in internal and external research.

Other Roles

Dr Shafik discussed other roles and responsibilities of a football doctor, including disability football, international football, National Governing Body (FA), and Professional Game Academies. Doctors may also support the work of football foundations in the community.


Dr Shafik kindly answered questions put forward by practitioners who attended the session. Please see the presentation recording for the insights from Andrew to the questions.

Presentation Recording

The recording of Andrew’s presentation is available to watch here.

Follow Dr Andrew Shafik

X: @aaashafik

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