Burley's advice behind Matt's treatment

FORMER Ipswich Town skipper Matt Holland has revealed why he used to paddle for an hour in the freezing sea at Brightlingsea.

Elvin King

FORMER Ipswich Town skipper Matt Holland has revealed why he used to paddle for an hour in the freezing sea at Brightlingsea.

While professional footballers are more accustomed at being seen on glamorous sun-kissed Caribbean beaches, the former long-standing Blues skipper was happy to be wading into the murky waters of the Essex coast.

Now a media pundit having left Charlton Athletic at the end of last season, Holland lives in north Essex and his method to cure himself of aches and pains was to stand in salty water.

And this worked as the Republic of Ireland international rarely missed a Town game and enjoyed a long unbroken run that stretched over three years.

“I read about current top players going over to Serbia for horse placenta treatment,” said Holland.

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“I had my own method - paddling knee deep in salt water on Brightlingsea beach.

“My Ipswich manager George Burley recommended this treatment and every time I had a swollen ankle he would send me into the sea.

“George swore blind that the salt has amazing healing powers, and although I felt a bit silly standing in freezing water for an hour or more it pretty much always did the trick.

“Being injured is the worst part of the game and whatever they are told to do players will be up for it.”

Another Ipswich Town big name, Ray Crawford, was also often seen knee-deep in the briny during his days at Portman Road.

The free-scoring striker, who was a member of the First Division title-winning 1961-62 side, had friends who owned a beach hut at Felixstowe and when he had a leg injury he would always go down and stand in the sea.

“It enabled me to gain my second England cap,” recalled Crawford. “I suffered a swollen ankle playing for Ipswich on Saturday and looked doubtful for England's match the following Wednesday.

“I spent most of Sunday on the beach at Felixstowe, and was able to take my place in the England side.”

Holland has revealed that his younger brother was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer.

“He's 29 and has come through a bout of chemotherapy and is thankfully on the mend now, which is a huge relief,” said Holland.

“Jason Cundy, one of my former Town team mates and someone who has got over the same illness, called my brother to give words of encouragement.

“I played for Ireland with Cardiff player Stephen McPhail and I wish him well in his recovery from MALT lymphoma.

“I know his family and it came as a massive shock to discover he is fighting cancer.”

On a lighter note, Holland recalled doing the dishes one Friday night and dropping a plate causing him to lose a large chunk of his right foot.

“I was too scared to tell my then Charlton manager Alan Curbishley, with the physio patching me up.

“I scored a goal in the game the next day, but with my head not my throbbing foot!

“I learned my lesson - buy a dishwasher.”