Longevity has become a rare commodity in modern-day football.

So the very special milestone achieved by Colchester United’s long-serving head physio Tony Flynn is undoubtedly something that should be saluted.

The U’s 2-0 win over Newport County last weekend was amazingly his 1,000th Football League game as a physio, with the bulk of those games over a period of more than two decades spent serving his present club.

“It doesn’t feel like 21 years,” said Flynn.

“A historian from a previous club who I’ve kept in touch with over the years emailed me a while ago to tell me that the landmark was on the horizon.

“There are a few players who have made it to 1,000 games – Peter Shilton, Tony Ford and Graham Alexander spring to mind - but I don’t think there are too many physios who have done it.

“I’ve only missed three games over the years – two for my daughter’s wedding and one for my niece’s wedding.”

Flynn has certainly enjoyed a productive and fruitful career since starting out with Leyton Orient, where he had progressed from his role as youth-team physio.

He served the O’s first team at the start of the 1996-97 season under Pat Holland, before joining Wimbledon and then MK Dons.

He linked up with Colchester in 2006, joining them at a time when they were about to embark on a historic first-ever season in the second tier.

Promotion-winning manager Phil Parkinson’s departure that summer led to his physio Stuart Ayles joining him at Hull City, creating a vacancy at Layer Road.

A phone call from chief executive Marie Partner eventually led to Flynn becoming part of new manager Geraint Williams’ close-knit team that was about to guide the U’s to the most successful season in the club’s history.

He said: “I’d left MK Dons and was about to do some teaching but I spoke to George (Geraint Williams) and Marie (Partner) and we agreed I’d do six weeks and ended up staying.

“We had very good staff in general then, with George and also the likes of Mick Harford and Donough Holohan.

“It was a memorable season – we were still at Layer Road then and we ended up going here, there and everywhere to train.

“My first season at Colchester was marvellous.

“We were playing at some big clubs, the likes of Wolves, Leeds United and Birmingham City.

“We were very lucky injury-wise that year but there were some very good footballers, honest professionals and very good people at the club, the likes of Johnnie Jackson, Jamie Cureton, Richard Garcia, Chris Iwelumo, Pat Baldwin and Wayne Brown, along with a young George Elokobi.

“There was also Aidan Davison, who now lives in the States but who I still speak to via email.

“Sadly, the squad broke up at the end of that season and a lot of them went on to bigger and better things.

“But that was a very good season and George is a top bloke.”

Following a Football League career spanning more than two decades, Flynn has unsurprisingly now worked at almost all of the grounds in the country, in the top four divisions.

“I’ve not got many to go and it’s quite exciting to go to the ones I haven’t been to,” said Flynn, who he is qualified in both physiotherapy and sports science.

“I think it’s only the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Forest Green Rovers, who we play later this season, where I haven’t been.

“I played for Dagenham in the Conference and did a lot of travelling with them all over the country, so my wife is quite used to that being part of my job.

“Football is a time consuming thing but I have help, physio-wise.

“When I first started, there was only me and the youth-team physio but now I have two helpers.”

Being head physio at a Football League club is a challenging pursuit.

Last season was a particularly testing one for the U’s on the injury front, with the likes of Kurtis Guthrie, Brennan Dickenson and Craig Slater all sidelined for several months in the second half of the campaign.

But Flynn takes particular satisfaction from seeing players recover from their ailments with the recent return of club captain Luke Prosser, who had been sidelined for around 15 months with a knee injury, a case in point.

“A lot of it is luck, I don’t care what anyone says,” said Flynn, who was a useful semi-professional player for the likes of Dagenham and Chelmsford City before hanging up his boots at the age of 32.

“Injuries in games are the consequence of intensity football.

“It can be frustrating when you have a lot of them out like we had last season.

“With the longer ones, you have them almost every day and you trust them and they trust you.

“I was so pleased for Pross the other day – I thought he was immense against Newport and when you work with players closely like John (McGreal) and Steve (Ball) do as well, you realise what good people they are, too.

“You find out about people and their ability and you build up an affinity with them.

“I go to a lot of operations with the boys, because I think it’s important for me to see what the surgeon is doing – you have to see what the damage is and how they can come back.

“It can be very hard to see someone lying there flat on their back with tubes coming out, so there’s the human element to it.

“The psychological element of their recovery is huge.

“I’m seeing Louis Dunne at the moment after his operation and every day I say to him ‘you’re a day nearer playing, son’.

“I haven’t had many who haven’t come from injury – Kevin Watson was a tough one, though.

“I’ve dealt with nine ACL injuries and they’ve all come back again at the same level that they were at.

“Tosin Olufemi was the most positive player that I’ve had for an injury like that.

“He came in every day for a year with a smile on his face, ready to do some work.

“His positivity helped him play again.”

Inevitably given his line of work, Flynn has had to deal with distressing injuries to players over the years, though thankfully they are rare.

One of the most disturbing incidents he dealt with was the sickening head injury defender Alex Wynter suffered during Colchester’s FA Cup tie against Spurs back in January, 2016.

“Alex’s was a tough one,” he admitted.

“But you have to deal with what you’re seeing at the time.

“We had the Tottenham physio, the doctors and the paramedics there, too.

“Fortunately, we have two very good doctors at the club, so I know I have huge back up.

“There haven’t been too many bad ones like that on the pitch, over the years.

“Many years ago, we had a goalie who suffered a nasty leg break at a game at Exeter and in another game, we had a player who ruptured his spleen on the pitch and subsequently needed an emergency operation.

“I think the ones on the training ground are harder, as it’s usually only me and another physio there.”

In the time that Flynn has been working as a physio, the progression in medical and sports science has been considerable.

He said: “There’s been a huge advancement in how things are doing, since I first started with for example things like MRI and CT scans and surgical advancement.

“Years ago, an ACL injury like the one that Louis Dunne has just suffered would threaten a career and the knee would be opened right up surgically but now it’s done using things like cameras and it’s absolutely amazing.

“Everything generally improves over time and it’s the same with medicine.

“When I first started, I did everything.

“Things have changed a lot and advanced a lot but I enjoy it as much as I first started, if not more.”

The high number of players to have publically congratulated Flynn on his recent landmark is a reflection of how popular and well-respected he is, not just at Colchester but in the wider game in general.

Flynn added: “They are decent people and I keep in touch with an awful lot of them and have been to the likes of Johnnie Jackson, John White and Pat Baldwin’s weddings.

“Footballers get a bad press – I know there are one or two players who you might think are selfish but generally, football people are hard-working, genuine people.”

Hard-working Flynn certainly fits into that category, too.

So after 1,000 Football League games under his belt over a period spanning two decades, is Flynn thinking about hanging up his physio bag any time soon?

“I’m 60 this year and I won’t do the games forever,” he added.

“We’re looking to get our academy physio Alex Stefanakis a lot more experience – that’s how I did it and that will be beneficial for him.

“You have to get your hands dirty to learn, in any walk of life.

“I’ll be giving him more and more games – I’ll still be involved but maybe I’ll start taking a little bit more of a back step and make a succession plan for the club.

“But it won’t be just yet, because I’m still enjoying it.

“The chairman Robbie (Cowling) is a great bloke to work for, as is John McGreal.

“Our club is a good club.”