05 Dec Dr Zafar Iqbal – Interview
Dr Zafar Iqbal is a Consultant in Sports and Exercise Medicine, having initially qualified as a doctor at the St Bartholomews and Royal London
School of Medicine in 1999 and went on to complete an MSC in Sports and
Exercise Medicine (SEM) at Queen Mary University London, six years later.
As well as working and setting up various Sports Medicine Clinics, Dr Iqbal
has worked as the team Doctor at Leyton Orient FC, Tottenham Hotspur.
During the summer of 2010 he swapped White Hart Lane for Anfield, when he
was appointed Liverpool’s first-team doctor, working alongside Professor
Peter Brukner. In 2012 he moved up to the position of the Head of Sports
Medicine at Liverpool FC. Early in 2015 he returned to London to work in
Sports Medicine Clinics and is currently the Head of Sports Medicine at Crystal Palace FC. He is also the Medical Officer for Kent Cricket Club and has helped several International Cricket players with long term injuries.
Dr Iqbal lectures and write widely on various aspects of SEM and believes
that all athletes should receive the same specialist care irrespective of
their level. He has a particular interest in promoting physical activity in
the community and its prescription in the management of associated chronic
diseases such as type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease. In recent
years he has campaigned widely for the availability of AEDS in all public
places and promoting Physical activity and healthy lifestyle education in
Schools. Since 2006 has been the Chairman for the FA Medical Society
organising Sports Medicine conferences for Medical staff involved in sports.
Peshawar Zalmi is extremely pleased to announce that it has struck up a collaboration with Dr. Zafar Iqbal where he will serve as a Medical advisor, as the organization looks to further strengthen and grow. We would like to welcome Dr. Zafar Iqbal to the Zalmi family and look forward to his guidance and counsel.
To kick start our relationship, we felt that a short interview with the Dr. Zafar would serve as a great introduction and also allow Zalmi fans the world over to benefit from his views and advice.
- Where were you born, and what is your connection with Pakistan?
I was born in Pakistan, Sahiwal near Faislabad but then came to the UK aged 2 months old and have lived in England ever since. I only returned to Pakistan in 2005 and 2007 to help in a volunteer medical camp in the Earthquake affected areas of Pakistan, following the 2005 Earthquake. So being of Pakistani origin and being brought up in a predominantly Pakistani environment in Rochdale, England, I have still kept some connection with my Pakistani roots.
- What influenced your decision to enter the field of Sports Medicine?
I always wanted to be a doctor from the age of 10, after seeing my sister suffer with an incurable brain cancer. Once I’d achieved my dream of being a Dr, I wasn’t too certain which area to specialize in. However my path in Sports Medicine was determined following my own knee injury I suffered playing football. The medical care I received was from ideal and I was told that I’d have to wait 18 months for an MRI scan. The rehabilitation was also basic and so I decided to study further and completed an MSc in Sports Medicine. I wanted to improve the care received for those people who didn’t have private health care but still wanted to return to playing sports after injury. After that I started setting up Sports Medicine clinics and lecturing and one thing led to another.
3 Which Cricket team do you support and who is your favourite player?
Ive always been a fan of Pakistan Cricket at the International level since they World Cup in 1992 and my favourite player was Wasim Akram, followed closely by Imran Khan. Until recently Ive not been able to watch any domestic Cricket in Pakistan and of course Im supporting Peshawar Zalmi now!
- Being one of the most prominent sports doctors in world football and having achieved so much already, if you could narrow it down, what would be the highlight of your career so far?
To be fair the prominent aspect is really to do with me having worked at Liverpool FC which of course one of the biggest and best supported clubs in the world. I’m honestly having difficulty picking a single highlight as I’ve been lucky enough to be have worked with some great players including Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho, Gareth Bale and Luca Modric to name but a few. Probably the best time was being involved in the 2013-14 season where Liverpool FC almost won the Premier League title… Also one of my saddest moments….
- Crystal Palace is a new and different challenge, how have you found it there?
I’m loving it at Crystal Palace. After leaving Liverpool Fc to return to my Family in London I was going to start working in Sports Medicine Clinics. However an opportunity came up at Crystal Palace to head up the Sports Medicine department. After the interview process and speaking to Alan Pardew the manger I was excited by the prospect of developing the Medical setup. The added bonus is that its near my family and so I get to see my wife and kids almost every day.
- You’ve been very kind to offer you valuable time and association to Peshawar Zalmi? What were your reasons for doing this and what benefit do you hope this will have?
I was impressed by the vision of Peshawar Zalmi and that aside from the Cricket team competing in the PSK, they were trying to develop sports in the local community, by promoting sports at the grassroots level kids. With my limited knowledge of Pakistan, I know how difficult this is to setup. I’m in a fortunate position having worked at the Elite football Clubs that I have and wanted to share my experiences, practices and basic Sports Medicine advice with people who wanted to improve the sports setup for others. I was able to have a meeting with Javed Afridi and he’s a very optimistic and persuasive man and I couldn’t say no!