Roberto Martinez meets our researcher Professor Noel Clarke to find out how we’re tackling prostate cancer.
Back in 2013/2014, as Roberto Martinez presided over a successful first season as Everton manager, delighted supporters unfurled a banner declaring the reopening of the mythical School of Science.
A phrase given to the club in the late 1920s due to the scientific nature of their play, the Catalan boss’ principles were quickly embraced by his new club.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015, and the end of his second season at the Goodison Park helm, and Martinez remains a sponge for scientific information on and off the pitch.
Thanks to a progressive relationship between Prostate Cancer UK and the League Manager’s Association (LMA), Martinez has regularly sported the iconic Man of Men pin badge on touchlines up and down the land.
And his quest to find out more about the leading men’s health charity in the UK saw him swap his tracksuit for a lab coat in an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of The Christie Hospital in Manchester.
There, he met Noel Clarke, Professor of Urological Oncology and co-director of the Belfast-Manchester Movember Centre of Excellence.
From administering pipettes to microscopes and being briefed on the latest state of the art technology, the Spaniard talked tactics about combating a disease that kills one man every hour.
“It’s something that we should be very aware to just anticipate and react when the illness affects you. After today I realise that research is vital to see people’s lives saved and the way that we can help men, every single one of them, [to fight] the disease that is affecting the population in huge numbers.”
He added: “From our point of view at Everton, we always take a lot of pride in our relationship with the issues that affect the community.
“I think the football community in general can extend a real clear message of being aware of prostate cancer and checking that situation to avoid further problems. As a football club Everton will always be supporting these campaigns and projects.”
He said: “It’s been fascinating just to find out a little bit more about such a big problem like prostate cancer. I met Professor Noel Clarke who gave an insight into some of the the work that’s been going on in terms of research, and trying to get that personalised treatment for patients.
“It was incredible to see so many new techniques and the equipment in the labs here and the very latest research you can find in the world. But on the other side you realise the long road that is left to go through and the amount of support that we need from every angle.
“Through the LMA we are very close with Prostate Cancer UK and their Men United campaign and we want to develop more awareness of prostate cancer, something that affects everyone in the community, particularly the male community.
The North West region has been home to Martinez since he arrived at Wigan in a blaze of publicity back in July 1995. And much has changed in those 20 years since ‘The Three Amigos’ – Martinez, Isidro Diaz and Jesus Seba – helped forged a transformation which would see sleepy Wigan work their way to the Premier League, where Martinez would manage them, famously winning the FA Cup before departing for Everton.
“After you leave the comfort of your own country, your own family, your language, your own way of living, your way of understanding the game, there is no comparison. Alien would be a very good word,” he recalled. “I don’t think we could have survived if we went on our own.
“We became very close to each other and we embraced the new experience. It was like going to the moon with good company and being prepared to find a way to make it a success.
“Clearly those friendships will be there for the rest of our lives, because the experience that we had was quite strong. It’s made us who we are today.”
Much has changed since The Amigos played their small part in English football folklore with Martinez becoming a household name in coaching, forging an attractive philosophy that has stood the test of time from Swansea City to Wigan and now Everton.
Preparation is key and fine margins can the difference between success and failure.
He added: “It’s a generalisation, but the game has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years in terms of giving players an individual treatment in terms of what they need just to prepare, to affect those margins that will allow them to perform in the best possible way on a football pitch.
“The football has also become a lot more physical. You need to be an athlete to be able to compete and the sports science information helps a lot.
“I think here today [at The Christie] was very clear to see how treating individuals affected by a disease like prostate cancer in a very specific manner with a specialised treatment that works for you is very efficient.
“That’s a very strong comparison that whatever you want to achieve, whatever it is, to get a successful treatment or to get a successful training programme in order to perform and achieve. It’s about coming down to detail and personalising your work and that was the very strong message to come out of today.”
Kevin Webber, who lives with advanced prostate cancer, tells us his extraordinary story of marathon running while undergoing chemotherapy, and how he now plans to compete in the epic, trans-Sarahan Marathon Des Sables in April.