|Full name||Michael John Rathbone|
|Date of birth||6 November 1958|
|Place of birth||Birmingham, England|
|Playing position||Full back|
|1979||→ Blackburn Rovers (loan)[A]||?||(?)|
|1987–1991||Preston North End||91||(4)|
|1992–1993||Halifax Town (caretaker manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Michael John "Mick" Rathbone (born 6 November 1958) is an English former professional footballer who played 384 games in the Football League representing Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End. He played as a full back. After injury forced his retirement as a player. he studied physiotherapy, and worked in that field for Halifax Town, Preston North End, and, from 2002 to 2010, Everton, where he became head of sports medicine.
Rathbone was born in Sheldon, Birmingham, and attended Sir Wilfrid Martineau School. He had ambitions to become a doctor, but decided instead to pursue a career in football when Birmingham City, the club he supported, offered him an apprenticeship in December 1974; as a schoolboy Rathbone had been associated with local rivals Aston Villa. He was capped twice at youth level by England. The 17-year-old Rathbone made his first-team debut on 31 August 1976 in a League Cup defeat at Blackpool, and his league debut on 20 October, as a substitute replacing Archie Styles in a 1–0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. He turned professional in November 1976, and played 16 games in the First Division that season, but his form dipped and he appeared only rarely over the next 18 months. He joined Blackburn Rovers on loan in February 1979: a month later the move was made permanent for a fee of £40,000.
Blackburn were relegated to the Third Division soon afterwards. Following the departure of manager John Pickering, Rathbone was an infrequent member of the starting eleven, but under Bobby Saxton, appointed in 1981, by which time Blackburn had returned to the second tier, he became the regular first choice at left back. He suffered a broken leg in 1983, and a hamstring injury deprived him of an appearance at Wembley Stadium in the final of the Full Members Cup in 1987. In all, Rathbone spent eight seasons with Blackburn before Preston North End manager John McGrath paid a fee of £20,000 for his services in August 1987.
Rathbone's Preston career was disrupted by a succession of injuries, including a broken arm and a fractured cheekbone. When a serious knee injury forced his retirement from playing in 1991, he began a degree course in physiotherapy at Salford University. McGrath, by then manager of Halifax Town, offered Rathbone the post of physiotherapist to the club, a role he could perform while continuing his formal study. On 8 December 1992, following McGrath's resignation, Rathbone was placed in temporary charge. The club's financial problems meant his caretaker role lasted until the end of the 1992–93 season, when they lost their Football League status. While continuing as physiotherapist, Rathbone resumed his playing career on an emergency basis for Halifax in the Conference, though his fitness level was rather less than it once had been. Towards the end of his time at Halifax, he added the assistant manager post to his collection, taking on what the Lancashire Evening Telegraph described as "the unique job description of assistant manager-player-physio", but in March 1995 he was sacked as a cost-cutting measure.
Rathbone then returned to Preston North End as physiotherapist. He spent six years at the club, during which time they progressed from Division Three (the fourth tier of English football) to the play-off for a place in the Premier League, latterly as part of David Moyes' backroom staff. When Moyes joined Everton as manager in March 2002, Rathbone followed a few months later after the clubs had agreed compensation. He spent nearly eight years at the club, becoming head of sports medicine, a post he left in May 2010 after what the Liverpool Echo described as "a tumultuous season of injuries" to the Everton players.
After leaving Everton, Rathbone went on to establish a business combining sports injury consultancy with motivational and after-dinner speaking. In January 2011, he rejoined Preston North End on a part-time basis until the end of the 2010–11 season, and also worked with the England under-17 team.
- The Blackburn appearances and goals are total figures covering both the initial loan spell in February 1979 and the permanent contract from March 1979. Neil Brown's site fails to separate the two.
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