Sheffield United's unsung backroom hero who played key role in Wales' World Cup qualification

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The Wales set-up that secured a first World Cup place since 1958 had a number of Sheffield United connections.

Manager Rob Page is a former Blade who still lives in the city, while former United No.2 Alan Knill is part of Page’s coaching staff. Blades past and present also appeared in the crucial play-off victory over Ukraine that made history for the Welsh, with Rhys Norrington-Davies coming on a substitute and Ethan Ampadu starting.

Adam Davies, who spent last season as United’s No.2 goalkeeper and may yet see his contract extended for the next campaign too, watched from the bench and is also expected to form part of the travelling party for Qatar 2022.

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But perhaps lesser known is the part another Bramall Lane figure played in Wales’ remarkable road to the World Cup, with masseur Chris Senior also part of the Wales backroom staff.

Senior, a former player who worked under former manager Chris Wilder at Halifax Town and scored an extra-time winner at Wembley as Darlington lifted the FA Trophy in 2011, joined United in 2018 during Wilder’s time at Bramall Lane and has previously held masseur positions at Huddersfield Town and Arsenal.

His association with Wales goes back to 2014, when the national team were let down and contacted Senior’s then-boss at Arsenal.

“They needed someone for one game, I got the nod and … I’ve been there ever since,” Senior told NE Sports News last year.

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Chris Senior of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/SportimageChris Senior of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Senior of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“That was Andorra away and we won with a retaken Gareth Bale free-kick. I love that part of my job, I love meeting up with them because they’ve got a real togetherness.”

If he goes to Qatar with Page, Norrington-Davies and Co., it will be Senior’s second taste of a major tournament. He hit the headlines at Euro 2016 when he was captured on camera taking photos of the Wales side in a celebratory huddle after victory over Belgium sealed a semi-final spot – while breakdancing!

UEFA banned photographers from the pitch, so Senior was handed a camera to capture the celebrations – but was told that he would be banned if he repeated the trick in the semi-final.

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