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the
manager
AUTUMN 2011
LEADERS
Insider
THE
season, he was snapped up by Roy
Keane to take up the position of frst
team coach with Ipswich Town.
However, before he could get to
grips with his new role, Ablett found
himself facing the greatest challenge –
not just of his career, but of his life.
“I’d only been working with Roy
for about two weeks,” says Ablett. “I
felt unwell after we’d come back from
playing a pre-season match against
days,” he says. “It took a number of
weeks for me to come to terms with
everything, but apart from the time
that I spent in various hospitals, which
totals about four months, I guess the
past year has gone pretty quickly.”
Once they’d recovered from the
initial shock, Ablett and his family
made a conscious decision to
approach the treatment in as positive
a way as possible. “We had a great deal
of support from the doctors, nursing
staf and good friends,” he says. “Te
environment for the last nine or ten
months has been very positive and
that positivity has helped me get to
where I am today.”
Ablett is quick to point out the
huge role that his wife Jacqueline has
played in his progress. “Jacqueline
would have a good chance of
qualifying to be a doctor now, with
all that she’s learned about non-
Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he says.
“She made a point of being around
whenever the doctors saw me, so that
she could listen and ask questions. She
knows all the medications I’m on and
how much I need, so it’s basically like
having my own nurse living with me.
She has been absolutely fantastic and I
don’t know where I’d have been if she
hadn’t have been the way she has.”
Ablett has also received great
support from the manager he
didn’t quite get to work with, Roy
Keane. “Roy has been magnifcently
supportive,” he says. “When I was
in hospital in Cambridge, Roy and
every member of the Ipswich team
GARY ABLETT
HAVING FACED THE GREATEST CHALLENGE OF HIS LIFE, THE FORMER LIVERPOOL AND EVERTON
DEFENDER PREPARES TO HIT THE ROAD AND SHARE HIS EXPERIENCES WITH A WHOLE NEW AUDIENCE
GARY ABLETT HAS
never been
one to shirk a challenge. An athletic
and versatile defender in his playing
days, he managed to break into the
all-conquering Liverpool team that
included such defensive stalwarts as
Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and
Steve Nicol. In the face of strong
competition, he made the Liverpool
left-back position his own and went
on to win two league championships
and one FA Cup with the club.
Ten, in January 1992, he faced
up to what was possibly the greatest
challenge of his playing career,
swapping Liverpool’s red shirt for
the royal blue of their arch-rivals
Everton... becoming the only player
to win the FA Cup with both teams.
When Ablett’s playing career came
to an end, he moved seamlessly into
coaching; working frst with Everton’s
youth academy and then returning to
the red side of the city to take control
of Liverpool’s reserve team. Under
Ablett’s guidance, Liverpool’s reserves
swept all before them, becoming
national champions in 2008.
Ablett moved into management
in 2009, taking the reins at struggling
Stockport County. Te club was in
administration and the resulting
of-feld problems undoubtedly had
an efect on the team’s performance;
with the result that Ablett left after
just one season.
A coach of Ablett’s ability and
qualifcations (he holds the UEFA Pro
licence) wasn’t going to remain idle
for long and, just prior to the 2010/11
“I think I
have a broad
spectrum of
experiences
from right
through
my career
and life”
PSV. I went to bed on that Tuesday
and couldn’t even get up again
until Friday, so it was obvious that
something was seriously wrong.”
Ablett soon discovered just how
serious his situation was; he was
diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma (a cancer which afects
the body’s lymphatic system) and was
almost immediately catapulted into a
world of round-the-clock treatment.
“From being diagnosed to the frst
bout of chemotherapy was three