Nino Severino: Why Martyn Waghorn is the ultimate role model for any athlete
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In his latest column, Nino Severino shares stories from his recent trip to Derby to catch up with former Ipswich Town star Martyn Waghorn and his wife Leoni.
This week's experience has brought together a number of areas of my life in one very special trip up north to Derby.
I have presented to athletes regarding having a strong personality and character, being tough, and making friends through sport, friends that can often last a lifetime.
I have also dealt with athletes who are battling injuries, and need to be strong, resilient and see the healing process through, by dealing with the long periods of treatment and rehabilitation required to get back into training and competition.
And I have really enjoyed my time with the Ipswich Town Academy parents, where I am overlooking a parent in sport programme and helping them to deal with the experience of supporting a child who's dreaming big in the footballing world.
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For one reason and another this weekend saw many of these elements all fuse together over a wonderful weekend with the Waghorn family up in Derby.
Martyn, Leoni and myself said we would not let Martyn's transfer move to Derby County Football Club from Ipswich last summer be the reason for our friendship to break down and lose its special status.
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I truly believe that having a place in sport can develop some of the best type of friendships - a bit like being in the army, it develops a comradeship, bond and understanding that only those who have experienced what you have can understand you as a person, better than others.
This has been the case with the Waghorns and myself, they both fell in love together with sport wrapped around them, and they grew together through Martyn having to climb the very tough and demanding ladder of working his way up through the footballing ranks.
The amazing highs and the very challenging lows, dealing with individuals around you that do not always have your best interest at heart and maybe trying to use your position for their personal gain.
This is what both Elena and I experienced, we both fell in love through the challenges of sport, and we too had to fight very hard to reach the level we did, sometimes having to deal with people who perhaps wanted to see us slip up.
We also had some incredible highs and some agonising lows through sport. These were a few of the many common areas that created the basis of a very special relationship that has clearly lasted, where for many others it may have broken down.
Leoni and Martyn are two unique and special people - if anybody reading this column are lucky enough to call them close friends, you'll know exactly why I say this.
This brings me onto another area, parents in sport, and this leads me to Steve and Linda Waghorn, Martyn's dad and mum, and how they always play a very important part of my experience when I visit.
If I could use an example of how you need to develop as parents in sport, I would say Mr and Mrs Waghorn Senior are the perfect example.
They are not only there for Martyn and Leoni, but also for young Ruben Waghorn, who is shaping up to be a very talented footballer himself.
And then of course there are the injuries, one of the main downsides of being an athlete, something that stops them from doing what they absolutely love.
Injury can place the athlete in a very dark and isolated place, away from the pack, having to deal with the healing process, and that may often be a very long drawn out affair.
At the weekend I watched Martyn score the first and very important goal for Derby against West Bromwich Albion, but 15 minutes later he had to be substituted with an injury and that was heart-breaking, not only for his family, but also for me, as a friend.
It was an agonising wait to find out whether this was serious for Martyn. After the match, he joined us all in the family lounge, wearing a massive medical boot which looked very serious, but it became apparent quickly that this was a precautionary reaction to the injury.
Martyn had a great big smile on his face, and it was lovely to see him embrace his family, and watch the worry fall away from their faces.
In the evening, Martyn, Leoni and myself had dinner at a local restaurant. It was very interesting hearing Martyn talking about the past injuries he had experienced, and how he dealt with these in a very positive way.
As I listened to him, I thought this man is the complete professional - a footballer who is not only great at his sport, but also knows the craft of being an "athlete" and all that it involves. He's a great role model for other athletes coming through the ranks, in any sport!