HE was one of the first names on Fabio Capello’s team-sheet and had no worries about whether he’d be making the flight to South Africa with England’s World Cup hopefuls.
We’re not talking Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard or John Terry, but ex-Wrexham player turned top masseur, Mark Sertori.
Sertori, who caused a fair few injuries himself as first a six foot plus targetman and then as a big-burly enforcer at the back, is now literally rubbing shoulders with the world’s best footballers.
That’s a far cry from the players he used to play with and against in an 18 year career trawling round the lower echelons of league football.
The 43-year-old Mancunian, who is also part of the back-room team at Manchester City, has a growing reputation in football for his hands-on approach.
The fact that he can speak Italian will also have gone down well with England supremo Capello, who brought in the man they nickname ‘Carlo’ to replace the long-serving Chelsea masseur Billy McCulloch.
Sertori arrived at Wrexham in a £30,000 deal from Lincoln City in February 1990 as Brian Flynn aimed to beef up his attack.
Part of that cash had been raised by supporters who had launched the Wrexham Revival Fund in a frantic bid to help the club fight off relegation from the Football League.
Having helped Wrexham avoid the drop, Flynn experimented with Sertori in a central defensive role in the summer of 1990.
The switch proved so successful that Sertori remained in that positon during the rest of his stay at The Racecourse.
During the 1990-91 season, Sertori played in the two-legged European Cup Winners’ Cup victory over Danish outfit Lyngby, although he missed the second round defeat against Manchester United.
However, Sertori did take part in Wrexham’s famous FA Cup third round victory over reigning Football League champions Arsenal at The Racecourse in January 1992, partnering on-loan Brian Carey in the heart of defence.
But Mel Pejic and Tony Humes’ fledgling defensive partnership meant opportunities were limited for Sertori during the 1992-93 season as Wrexham secured promotion to the Second Division.
The signing of Barry Hunter offered more competition for places in the 1993-94 season and after returning from a loan move to Preston, where he was restricted to reserve team games, Sertori was released at the end of the campaign and he joined Bury.
At the tail-end of his professional career, Sertori enrolled on a Professional Footballers’ Association-funded course at Cardiff, where he graduated as a masseur as well as qualifying in reflexology and aromatherapy.
In 2003, he joined Bolton Wanderers as Sports Therapist and masseur. He followed Sam Allardyce to Newcastle United before moving to Manchester City while still maintaining a private practice in Stockport.
Sertori described his spell at Wrexham as one of the ‘best times’ in his career which also saw service at York City, Shrewsbury and Cheltenham Town.
His rise up the football ladder can best be described in a quote he gave the Leader when he’d just taken a back-room role at Bolton.
“You just never know in this game,” he said. “You’ve got to make the most of what life throws at you and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”