How I found my new career through football

Shaquille Antoine-Clarke was an academy football player with Manchester United and a youth team player with Rochdale. He since re-trained as a podiatrist, and now works at a Margaret Dabbs London foot clinic. You can connect with Shaquille on LinkedIn

It was my football career that first gave me an insight into podiatry. I saw podiatrists myself, and realised the massive range of work that they do. During my semi-pro football career, I started on a road into podiatry, and I’ve never regretted it.

I got into football because my dad was a football coach for my older brother’s team at Fletcher Moss Rangers and I couldn’t wait to play. I came through the ranks at the Manchester United FC academy from under 8’s to under 16’s and then went to Rochdale for my scholarship at youth team level.

After my youth scholarship, I went on to playing semi-professional for Droylsden FC. I had a period where I couldn’t get my foot into my football boots which stopped me playing for over two weeks.

My physiotherapist recommended me to see a podiatrist, she performed treatment on a Saturday morning and I was back playing that same Saturday afternoon. It really was a life changing moment!

After visiting the podiatrist again, we spoke about the career and academic routes into podiatry. I did some research and realised I had to return to college and get the right A Levels I needed for the degree. After I achieved my A-levels I studied my Podiatry undergraduate degree at Salford University, whilst working part time as a sports coach in primary schools and playing semi-professional football.

During my time at university, I was doing placements, and realised that there’s a difference between NHS and private practice. There are different scopes, and pathways, and many opportunities once you’re qualified. Whilst I was doing my placements it made me want to go into it even more – there is so much to do. You can make it your own!

My football was my passion during my youth and there are so many transferable qualities that it taught me. The ability to communicate with others, and show empathy, and work in a team. And also to work under pressure, which is vital in healthcare.

There are loads of preconceptions about podiatry. People think it’s just nail cutting – that’s all there is to it – cutting old people’s nails. And it’s really not! Everyone has a need for podiatry, from the minute they start walking.

Since graduating from the University of Salford and becoming a HCPC Registered podiatrist I have worked in the private health care industry. Every day is varied which can include routine podiatry treatments, verruca treatments, biomechanical assessments, gait analysis, nail surgery, cracked heel treatments and lots more.