KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: World football federation FIFA has appointed former Liverpool team doctor Andrew Massey as its new medical director.

Ulsterman Massey fills a role effectively vacant since the sudden departure of long-serving Jiri Dvorak in November 2016 in the management cull instigated by then-new-president Gianni Infantino.

Massey focused on sports medicine after his playing career was curtailed by injury and later became national team doctor with the Irish Football Association and then world and European champions Liverpool from 2013 until the end of last year.

Massey enters the world federation at a particularly interesting time in medical terms with increasing concerns about the potential damaging effects of heading a ball and a debate over recognition and reaction to possible concussion.

A FIFA statement said: “He will be responsible for improving the health of all who play football, from grassroots to elite level around the world as well as overseeing medical services at FIFA tournaments.

“The role will especially focus on preventing injuries on the field of play and promoting football as a healthy leisure activity.”

Massey began his career in the game as a professional footballer in the Irish League before injury led to him taking a university course studying physiotherapy and graduating with a BSc (Hons) degree.

A placement followed with the Victorian Institute of Sport, where he commenced a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy and completed a qualification in Strength and Conditioning.

Massey began studying medicine in the UK in 2002 and also started working as the Belfast Giants ice hockey team’s physiotherapist.┬áHe graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2007 and one year later was appointed team doctor with the Belfast Giants.

In 2009, he returned to football as national team doctor with both the Irish Football Association and Linfield.

He completed an MSc in Sports Medicine whilst also training as a General Practitioner and was awarded a Fellowship of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine.

In 2013 Massey joined Liverpool as academy doctor and match-day medical co-ordinator, before acting as first-team doctor on an interim basis in 2014 – a position that was made permanent the following year.