Football: Hypnotist, speedway rider, dustman, writer, zoologist, window cleaner, singer...and the man behind England's 3-1 win over Poland

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WHEN KEVIN KEEGAN revealed he had engaged a "motivator" to talk to the England players for Saturday's victory over Poland at Wembley he would only say - with a view to the way Glenn Hoddle was pilloried over his dependence on the faith healer Eileen Drewery and a belief in reincarnation - that he was Scottish but not "weird".

Mr Mac Motivator was revealed yesterday and, while he may not be weird, he is certainly colourful, having packed more into the 63 years of his one life than most people would manage in several.

Watt Nicoll, discovered by Keegan giving a motivational talk at a business conference in Nottingham four years ago, began his working life as a prospective vet before attempting a variety of occupations varying from professional speedway rider to window cleaner, eventually establishing himself as an entertainer. While primarily a folk singer he also played in a band called the Dirty Pigs and wrote scripts for Norman Wisdom.

Along the way he has run the full gamut of human experience, which includes marriage, fatherhood and divorce, wealth, bankruptcy and homelessness.

Nicoll spent an hour in the company of the England players on Thursday evening and handed them a copy of his book, Twisted Knickers and Stolen Scones, at the end of the session after addressing them on motivation techniques.

To judge from a phone call he said he received from Keegan yesterday, he clearly made an impression. Nicoll said: "Kevin said the players were still talking about my meeting with them at half-time."

Nicoll, who was presented with a signed England shirt by Keegan and the squad, picked up his motivational techniques in America and has concentrated on that profession in recent years. Ayrshire born, he describes himself on his business card as Watt Nicoll MP. "That stands for motivated person, guru of personal reinvention," he said.

Watt added: "It's difficult to describe the technique I used with the England squad. I was over there for one evening only and spent an hour in a group environment. It was a motivational experience.

"What I try and do in a situation like this is to try and destroy the team ethic and focus more on the individual. I didn't sing, though. I think that might have de-motivated them."

In his book Nicoll writes: "In my adult life I set out to be a vet, studied zoology, rode on the professional speedway circuit, apprenticed as a saw doctor and recorded 14 albums as a folk singer.

"I have also worked as a script writer, playwright, window cleaner, stage hypnotist, dustman and TV presenter. I have spent long periods in hospital, married, divorced, travelled abroad, become well off, remarried, become a bankrupt and slept rough.

"My first well paid job was the Pet Man on Scottish Television's children's programme Roundabout and my zoology studies went downhill from there.

"I became semi-famous as a folk singer in the same era that spawned the likes of Billy Connolly, Hamish Imlach and Barbara Dickson.

"But the strangest twist occurred when a play I wrote for a London theatre led to a study of behavioural psychology.

"I ended up touring for years, performing to capacity audiences, techniques that everyone insisted was stage hypnosis but I know it is something else. The realisation that we can be anything we want to be has been an inspiring and exciting revelation for me.

"My passion is in helping people fulfil their potential and it is very rewarding."

England's performance on Saturday would tend to suggest that Paul Scholes listened more intently than Steve McManaman but, like Hoddle's use of Drewery, this is clearly something from which some people will benefit more than others. The use of motivators - or, more often, trained sports psychologists - is widespread in professional sport, particularly in the United States, but also in the UK, with the England cricket team particularly keen on the concept.

Many sportsmen do seem to benefit. However, the danger comes if team selection is perceived to be influenced by the "outsider" as was believed to be Hoddle's case by some people with Drewery.

THE THOUGHTS OF WATT NICOLL - `GURU OF PERSONAL RE-INVENTION'

"Fairness is a fantasy concept people use to excuse themselves from their inadequacies"

"Motivation is activating a mental button which produces maximum focus"

"Attitude is more important than good looks, talent or intelligence"

"Women are incredible motivators. I believe men are supposed to be motivated by women"

"I do not accept that we do well by being sporting losers or fighting to the end. Give me the opportunity and I guarantee Scottish-born people can win gold on the sports field, world cups in team events and accolades in any other field of human endeavour."

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