CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati have hired long-time Manchester United sports performance expert Gary Walker as the club’s first Director of Sports Performance.


At FCC, Walker will oversee all aspects of the club’s health and wellness initiatives, including athletic training, nutrition, strength and conditioning and physical therapy. He will also oversee the club’s medical relationship with Mercy Health, working in tandem with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Busam. Walker will report to FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding.


“We’re thrilled to add an expert with Gary’s credentials to our staff,” Berding said. “Gary comes to us with the highest regard from the football community and we’re excited to get his insights and expertise working for FC Cincinnati. Gains in sports performance are a key differentiator for successful teams. With Gary leading us in this discipline, we’re looking forward to being on the forefront as we build out first-team programs, our FCC Academy and our facilities at the new Mercy Health Training Center in Milford.”


“Speaking to the people that are involved here, it’s a really special project,” Walker said. “It’s a new opportunity for me to come here and work with great staff and people that are really motivated to get this project up and running. Everything I’ve seen about Cincinnati, the fans, the people, they love football, they love soccer. I’m really excited to be part of it.”


“We identified that this was an area where we really needed to grow as we moved into Major League Soccer and our club continued to expand with our youth programs,” Head Coach Alan Koch said. “We’ve created the position and we’ve filled it with an excellent professional who’s also a fantastic person and fit for our staff. Not only can you can see the work he did at Manchester United and how it helped the club, but you can see that he fits the fabric of our club. We’re very, very excited to have him join our team.”


Walker arrives in Cincinnati after an 11-year tenure with Manchester United, where he began in 2008 as the club’s lead sports scientist and strength and conditioning coach under manager Sir Alex Ferguson. He remained with the club under four different managers before departing this month to join FC Cincinnati.


In 2010, he assumed leadership of Man United’s strength and conditioning program before later joining the team’s technical staff as the first team’s fitness coach ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.


During his time in Manchester, he developed Manchester United’s Human Performance Laboratory, and also planned and redeveloped the club’s strength and conditioning facilities. In his tenure, Walker continued to fine-tune Manchester United’s world-renowned sports performance systems, which led to an increase in player availability over a six-year period.


Walker earned his degree in sports and exercise science with honors in 2002 from Loughborough University, and then completed his PhD in exercise physiology in 2006 from Loughborough University. He is currently working toward his master’s in sporting directorship from the University of Salford.


After earning his PhD, Walker began his professional career as a research associate at Loughborough before joining the English Institute of Sport as a physiologist. There, he worked directly with elite athletes competing in badminton, rowing and canoe-kayak to improve performance.


Walker holds certifications from the (U.S.) National Strength Coaches Association (NSCA) and the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association, as well as Functional Movement Systems. He is a former Fitness Trainers Award honoree by the Football Association (U.K.), and also holds the FA’s Coaching Football Award (Level 2). Walker has completed Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the Exos Mentorship, as well.


FC Cincinnati will return home for a match against the Philadelphia Union at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, March 30. The match will be televised locally on WSTR Star64, streamed regionally on FloSports and out of market on ESPN+ and carried on the radio on WDJO, the TuneIn app and fccincinnati.com. Season tickets, mini plans and individual-game tickets are on sale at fccincinnati.com/tickets or by calling 513-977-5425 (KICK).


For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati.