The former England and Tottenham Hotspur manager Glenn Hoddle once observed that, when a player gets to 30, so does his body. This is undoubtedly true and these days footballers are able to continue playing at the top level into their mid and late thirties.
This is not necessarily a new phenomenon as Stanley Mathews was still kicking a ball at the top level when he was 50. He was though exceptional and it is quite remarkable how many players are able to continue to perform for the top teams at an advanced age for footballers.
What are the factors that have enabled players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to remain at the top for so long?
Ryan Giggs and Yoga
Giggs has stated that one of the main reasons he still playing as he approaches his fortieth birthday is the fact that he has embraced Yoga. Earlier in his career he suffered from recurrent hamstring injuries and he wanted to find a way to help his body avoid these problems.
By doing Yoga he has been able to strengthen his legs and his core strength which in turn has given his body greater flexibility. He believes that his body is more flexible now than it was when he was a teenager.
He is lucky though that he has not had a serious injury or any broken bones to contend with in his career. For instance, unlike his team mate Roy Keane he has not suffered a knee ligament injury.
His manager Sir Alex Ferguson said that, ӗhen (he) runs at players he gives them twisted blood.ӠGiven those sudden changes of direction he has used for 20 years as a dribbler it is remarkable that he does not seem to suffer from knee pain.
Improved diets and lifestyle
The modern player has been able to put off retirement because of they look after themselves better than their counterparts did twenty or thirty years ago. The reason that Stanley Matthews was able to stay fit was because he had a healthy diet and understood that you have take a holistic approach to fitness.
Paul Gascoigne said of the former England captain Bryan Robson that, ӈeֳ the only man I know who could drink 16 pints and still play the next day.Ԝn
That was the attitude then and a lot players these days do not drink and those that do would not imbibe alcohol a week before a game never mind the night before.
They are also helped by the fact that the modern physio has a better set of physio supplies to help injured players when they get injured so they are able to recover quicker and get back on the pitch.
Who knows perhaps Giggs will still be playing in the 2023 premier league season as he approaches his fiftieth birthday.