Opportunity Knocks for Dean

16th September 2007

That Ashton is once again in contention after shattering his ankle has much to do with the support of sports psychologist Roberto Forzoni, who is highly regarded by the likes of Sir Clive Woodward and Andy Murray.

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley used him for the final ten games of last season. A move which coincided with West Ham’s against-odds battle to beat the drop? And Ashton revealed that hours spent with Forzoni proved just as vital to his recovery as his time on the treatment table.

“We have had group meetings which are very good, and I speak to him when I need to. He is a good man to have around the place,” said Ashton. “I know him from when I played with England Under 17s. I have always liked the way he does things, as he is not in your face too much. He has been around a long time and he knows his stuff.”

Forzoni even knows a few tricks of a different variety, being a member of the Magic Circle. And defender James Collins revealed just how Forzoni’s Paul Daniels approach had helped as relegation loomed large at the end of last season.

“We were a bit down but he gave us a few motivational speeches and also had a few magic tricks in his bag,” said Collins. “He is always entertaining the boys, and he has been superb for us.”