TALENT can go a long way when you are making your career as a footballer.
But hard work, graft and application are the only solutions when it comes to life after playing, as Hereford United’s physio Ian Rodgerson has discovered.
After 17 years as a pro, the midfielder or full-back, who started and finished his playing career at Edgar Street, is now well established in his role at the club after 18 months in the post.
The journey to get where he is, however, has not always been an easy one.
His career in physiotherapy began during his second spell as a player at Edgar Street.
“We didn’t have a physio here at the time and I was just doing my early stuff with the FA,” he recalled.
“I started getting involved with the sporting injuries and Graham Turner was happy with that.
“I was very much thrown in at the deep end and learning as I was going, but that is probably one of the best ways; taking advice from everywhere I could.
“I went on to do my diploma at Lilleshall, qualified in 2000 and really enjoyed it.
“It gave me something to aim for because, realistically, I knew I was coming to the end of my career.”
But that was when the really hard work began for Rodgerson who was released from Edgar Street at the end of the 2001-2 season.
“Birmingham had phoned me offering me the odd day’s work and to get involved with their Academy,” he said.
“So I did that and also got on to the degree course at Salford University, two days per week.”
But that was only part of it, with household expenses to pay and a family to support.
His first career and an old friend combined to help him to earn a living, “In between working at Birmingham and my studies, I worked on building sites,” he said.
“Dave Llewellyn, who was the manager at Pegasus Juniors when I played there, helped me out and I got back into plumbing which I did before I signed pro.
“Looking back I wonder how I did it - four years up and down to Salford and there were 1,000 hours to do in a hospital setting for practical experience.
“I’m quite proud of the fact that I got my head down and did it. When you get to 36, you have to focus your thinking when you have a mortgage to pay.”
Rodgerson qualified in 2006 and went back to work the building site.
But he did not have long to wait before a phone call which presented a major opportunity.
“I was up to my eyes in dirt and fibre-glass a month later when the phone went and it was the head physio at Birmingham City,” he said.
“He asked if I wanted to go for interview as the head academy physio.
“I went up and got the job where I gained great experience for three or four years.”
It was then that he bumped into an old playing colleague from his United days to alter course once more.
“I had a chance meeting with Jimmy Harvey in Hereford - it was the first time I’d seen him in about 15 years and I didn’t recognise him,” he said.
“That led to the physio job at Forest Green and I was up there for a couple of years, after which I had about 12 months doing private work before Jamie Pitman asked me to come back to Edgar Street. I jumped at the chance to come back here.”
And back down in the Conference, where he spent the final five years of his playing career, he has certainly noticed a few changes.
“These days the Conference is far more professional, the vast majority of the teams are full-time and it has come on in leaps and bounds,” he said.
And there were some words of hope for Bulls fans that the season is certainly not dead.
“There is nothing in the league this season, it’s really tight,” he said. “You just need that little bit of consistency and a little spark to get that good run going.
“If you win two or three on the bounce then you can be right up there.
“Most Hereford fans are realistic; it’s all to do with money.
“I always thought this season would be about consolidation but if we can play a bit of football then who knows.”