James Milner says that Gary Speed is his inspiration
James Milner has been talking about prolonging his playing career.
The versatile Liverpool player is now 34 and still going strong in the Premier League, a real professional.
When it comes to a role model, James Milner can think of nobody better than Gary Speed as an inspiration, when it comes to professionalism and retaining fitness due to hard work, in order to play on as long as possible.
The two player were together for a short time at Newcastle United, Milner signing in summer 2004 and that was later followed by Speed moving to Bolton.
Doing NUFC pre-season training together, James Milner recalls Gary Speed taking a group of players running on the beach and how impressed he was by the Welshman’s fitness. At the time, Milner was 18 and Speed just two months short of his 35th birthday.
James Milner talking to BBC Radio 5 Live:
“You [Jermaine Jenas] and Speedo [Gary Speed] were good people to test.
“Speedo was knocking on a bit at that point and [at Newcastle United] we only had one fitness coach, Windy [Paul Winsper is now Director of Athletic Performance for Under Armour], I think it was.
“Speedo took the group running on the beach, didn’t he?
“That showed how good a pro Speedo was and what a good runner he was at his age.
“So that rubbed off on us, especially when you are looking at someone as old as he was at that point.
“He was an amazing pro and you are left thinking, ‘If he can do it at that age, then why can’t I get to his sort of age and still be doing it?’…”
Gary Speed was still playing for Sheffield United when he was 40 and around that time also did the London Marathon in under three hours fifty minutes to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
When the football season finally gets underway again there will be another piece of history for James Milner, which actually involves Gary Speed.
Milner is currently stuck on 534 PL appearances, just one behind Speed, although Gary Speed also played 79 times in the top tier for Leeds in 1990/91 and 1991/92 before Division One was rebranded as the Premier League.
When he does eventually surpass Speed, Milner will move up into the top five on the all-time list with David James next in his sights on 572 appearances. Currently top of the PL chart is Gareth Barry on 653 matches (Ryan Giggs second on 632 appearances).
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