Luke Oliver has revealed the secret behind his success this season – regular visits to a mind coach.
City’s towering centre half swept the board at the club’s prize night, where he was named player of the year as well as picking up five other trophies.
And Oliver paid tribute to the self-help guru who has helped him conquer any mental demons.
The defender has been seeing Cleckheaton-based John Muranka for the past 14 months since being introduced to him by Peter Taylor.
Former City boss Taylor had worked with a sports psychologist during his playing days at Tottenham and felt it helped his self-confidence.
Oliver admitted the visits to Muranka “struck a chord straight away”.
I went there with the intention of improving the consistency side of my game and it’s paid off because that’s what people keep complimenting me onLuke Oliver
He said: “It’s a bit of a taboo subject in football talking about the mental side but I’ve definitely felt the positives.
“I went there with the intention of improving the consistency side of my game and it’s paid off because that’s what people keep complimenting me on.
“You learn not to be troubled by a bad game. You just move on to the next one. Seeing John goes hand-in-hand with the training and working with the gaffer on my heading and clearing.
“It helps when I prepare for the next game. I’m not stressing about it but the total opposite and it seems to have helped this season.”
For Muranka, who has also worked with former British Superbikes rider Michael Pensavalle, it is a labour of love as a Valley Parade season-ticket holder.
He could sense the unlocked potential in Oliver from their first meeting.
Speaking exclusively to the T&A, Muranka said: “He was questioning everything I asked. There was a genuine interest in what I was saying even if he wasn’t sure what to believe.
“Mind and body are totally linked. Something that affects us physically can also do so mentally and vice versa.
“You suddenly make a mistake in a game and start beating yourself up about it. Then your whole performance is affected.
“For some that can even affect how they play in the next game.
“But it’s just one mistake. Everyone makes them, even Wayne Rooney.
“You have to learn that moment has gone. Live in the present and just think about making the next header or next tackle.
“The negative side of your mind comes out much easier than the positive. That’s a natural thing that comes from deep in our own history.
“You have to work hard to bring the positive message through until it becomes habitual and self-perpetuating. That’s what we’ve done with Luke.
“We meet after every three games and look at what’s been occurring for him and what’s gone on in his mind.
“The meetings have developed into quite long sessions which we both enjoy. Luke is such a humble, self-effacing guy.
“We all love our own football team and it’s one of the joys of the job that people outside have noticed a difference in him.”