Towards the end of 2020 Stella Zhang joined the Brentford B setup as a new Physiotherapist and works day-to-day with the players to help them get back to full fitness following injury.
Having grown up in Sydney, Australia, Stella climbed up the leagues to the professional level of Aussie rules football before opting to make the switch to the UK to break into English football.
“Aussie rules is really physical and the demands on the athletes are huge which set me up well to come here,” explained Stella. “I’ve always wanted to work in football because it’s such an international sport, so I wanted to get out and explore the English game and got my first chance with Huddersfield Town.
“I moved from Sydney to Huddersfield, which was a really big move, and it wasn’t easy, but my life was centred around work and it was a really good introduction to English football. I worked there for a year and a half and decided to make the move to London for a new opportunity. Brentford is a Club which is really progressive, and for me as a physio, I’m very forward thinking, and this Club matches my values.
“I enjoy that it is something different every day. I don’t work a 9am-5pm desk job, I like that I’m always doing different things and get to work with so many different players and personalities. I’m always kept on my toes and still learning every day.”
Having made the move from New South Wales to West Yorkshire to make her first steps in English football, Stella admitted it was a tough process but thoroughly enjoyed her grounding in her first job in the UK with Huddersfield.
She continued: “I started looking for jobs a few months before I moved over, and it was quite difficult because I didn’t have a visa and the logistics of it were challenging. I needed someone to commit to me, and with Huddersfield I had someone really great who took a chance on me and, luckily, after two interviews at midnight I managed to get the job within the Academy setup.”
Having departed Town in December last year, Stella stepped into life with The Bees in West London to work alongside the young players in Neil MacFarlane’s squad. Having had a few months to settle into the role and get to grips with life in West London, it’s fair to say she’s thriving in her new position.
“I really like living here; the Club has a really good culture and it’s very progressive,” said Stella. “Everyone that I work with pushes you to be a little bit different and creative in order to find ways to get to the end goal. I have my independence and responsibility, and it’s great to be a part of a wider team. It’s good to see some of our B Team boys, who I’ve worked with in their rehab, either training or playing with the First Team which I think shows that we are going in the right way from a performance, medical, and coaching point of view.”
Having had a chance to get to know the players, the Brentford B Physio believes the honesty in the group is something which helps them from a fitness perspective and allows her to keep on top of any potential injuries before they develop.
She explained: “I think the good thing about our players is that they are honest if they pick something up, which makes it a lot easier to manage if they don’t play along with injuries. The B Team staff are fantastic as well, in terms of understanding where a player is physically. Of course, they want the players back as fast as possible, but they need to get them back 100% right.”
So, how are things in the B Team medical room at the moment? Stella believes things are progressing well, having seen the likes of Gustav Mogensen and Mads Bidstrup make their returns from long-term injuries in recent weeks. Along with that, Nathan Shepperd has returned to action and Paris Maghoma is steadily on his way back to full fitness along with Ryan Trevitt and Max Haygarth to follow.
“It’s not too busy at the moment, overall, we’ve kept a really fit squad,” explained Stella. “We’ve had some longer-term injuries and it can be difficult to come in and pick the boys up midway through their rehab. It’s been really good to see them come back and play lots of minutes, and to have a really fit squad and only a couple of short-term injuries, I think we’re in a really strong position.”