Hammer Taka's Italian job

West Ham United won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, but a Hammers employee will be doing his own little bit to scupper England's chances at the 2014 finals.

Athletic trainer Takahiro Yamamoto will be travelling to Brazil with the Italy squad due to his previous working relationship with Gli Azzurri manager Cesare Prandelli at Serie A clubs Parma and Fiorentina.

Yamamoto worked with the pair in his role as the personal therapist for Japan superstar Hidetoshi Nakata, who became Asian football's biggest star during a successful seven-year spell in Italy. He later followed Nakata to Sam Allardyce's Bolton Wanderers in 2005. The story came full circle when, having joined West Ham in 2009, Big Sam joined the therapist in east London two years later!

For Yamamoto, the prospect of working at a FIFA World Cup finals with his old colleague Prandelli and a number of players he treated during his time in Italy is an exciting one. The Italians, of course, open their Group D campaign by facing England at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus on 14 June.

"The story is that I will be going to the World Cup with Italy, whose management and coaching staff I know well because when I was in Italy we were at the same club, Fiorentina," said Yamamoto. "Last December, the fitness coach called me and said 'After the season, if you are free, come with us!' and I agreed.

"I have had injections for yellow fever and taken tablets for malaria because the first game against England is in the Amazon jungle. The doctor said I had to have these.

"I am excited because this is my first World Cup. In 2006, I went to Germany as a supporter to watch, so this will be the first time working at a World Cup and it will be a great experience.

"It's very, very interesting because the first game is against England. Prandelli is very strict and very professional and I like him and his methods. I also know some of the players - the defender Giorgio Chiellini and left-back Manuel Pasqual - from Fiorentina. Maybe I know three or four of them.

"I first went to Italy with Nakata, to Roma, then Parma and Fiorentina, always with him. I then came to Bolton with Sam, which is interesting, because I always seem to work with the same managers!"

Known as 'The Machine' for his amazing strength and flexibility, Yamamoto is a popular figure for the rejuvenating treatment he gives to players suffering from a wide variety of ailments, aches and pains.

Whether it be stretches, exercises or acupuncture, the Japanese therapist works his magic regularly at Chadwell Heath and will now do likewise with the Italian national team.

"I will be preparing the players for the games and training then, after the game, I will hold recovrery sessions. Mainly, I will be doing soft tissue work, as well as some mobilisation and stretching. I will also do some exercise, which I did a lot before in Italy with the players to work on their core stability."