ESPN did a brilliant feature story on seeing how difficult a medical at a Premier League club really is, using a professional five-a-side football player as their guinea pig. Chris Jones, who at 44 is 5’10” and 215 lbs, had resolved to pass Everton’s medical test but ended up learning how finely-tuned professional footballers’ bodies really are.
In a longform piece, Jones writes about his experience of meeting the Everton club doctor Dr. Aboul Shaheir and various other people in the organization, along with seeing the Blues’ sparkling facilities at Finch Farm where he gets tested to the limits of his endurance.
It was a crisp, sunny, late-winter morning when I arrived at Finch Farm, Everton’s gorgeous training facility and academy. Now I know what heaven looks like: a bright, modern building dedicated to honing the finest athletes, surrounded by immaculate football pitches and grounds.
The writer uses equal doses of reality and humour to point out that mere mortals like us cannot simply flip a switch and become athletes just by being there.
Football hearts are different beasts... The heart is a muscle, and though it doesn’t grow like a bicep, it does change size and structure with serious exercise. Ramsdale said he can predict a player’s position based on his heart alone. (Midfielders have the largest; goalkeepers, obviously, the most noble.)
He has seen players with chamber walls so thick, he has had to ask them to stop training to determine whether their fortifications are the product of a congenital defect or their own efforts. He has seen resting heart rates in the 30s. He has seen hearts that could be mistaken for engines.
Kudos to the ESPN correspondent for capturing the feeling of what it might be like to undergo a medical at the club we so love, even it’s only in our most fantastic dreams that we trot out onto the hallowed turf of Goodison Park in the blue kit to score the winning goal at the Gwladys Street End with seconds to go before the final whistle!