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Manchester United Strength Coach Visits Pitt

Mike Clegg speaks to the Pitt women's soccer team following a conditioning test

Mike Clegg speaks to the Pitt women's soccer team following a conditioning test

Aug. 6, 2010

In the last decade as Manchester United’s strength and conditioning coach, Mike Clegg has used his knowledge and skill to help craft countless world-renowned soccer icons: players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney — each of whom have heard their names echoed across the globe in recent years.

On Thursday, he had a chance to share some of his knowledge and experience in a different way, as he met and spoke with Pitt men’s soccer coach Joe Luxbacher and women’s coach Sue-Moy Chin. Clegg, who is visiting and working with UPMC during his visit, also met with Panther strength and conditioning coach Ted Dworek and spoke briefly to both teams.

Luxbacher said the chance to talk with Clegg — who comes from one of the worlds most famous, successful and storied dynasties — was tremendous.

“It was a great opportunity to pick his brain and see what they do in season and out of season,” said Luxbacher, who’s coached the Panthers since 1984. “With fitness training and strength training, there’s a fine line between being very fit and being over-trained. The chance to talk about the quantity and quality of work they do and what their fitness standards are…maybe they do something that we don’t use. It turns out that we have a lot of similar philosophies, and it was a great chance to sit down and exchange ideas.”

The quality of opponents is one similarity between United and Pitt. The Panthers play in the always-powerful Big East Conference, which constantly produces top talent in the U.S. United, meanwhile, competes professionally in England’s prestigious Premier League, which is undoubtedly one of the world’s finest.

As United’s strength and conditioning coach, Clegg has the responsibility of bringing the squad’s players to their best possible condition for each match. Weight training, speed work and injury prevention are a few of the many things he focuses on.

And now, Clegg, who has been with United since 2000, is in his first-ever trip to Pittsburgh. He’s preparing to open a new gym for United’s youth academy, and is looking into the physical and mental development of younger players.

“When you train adults and then go work with younger players, you have to realize that they’re completely different,” he said. “The adult players totally know themselves, and that’s one of the most important things as an athlete. Young kids really don’t know themselves, especially with injuries and things like that."

“I’ve been to the United States many times, but this is my first time in Pittsburgh, and everybody’s been so good to me.”

Pitt’s men’s soccer team opens its season with an exhibition game against California (PA) on Aug. 25. Following a string of non-conference matchups, the Panthers begin Big East play with an away match against Syracuse on Sept. 25.

Meanwhile, the women’s team begins its season with an Aug. 14 exhibition match against Cleveland State. Its conference schedule is set to open Sept. 16 against West Virginia.