Strachan: Good team-mates key to long career

Former Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan says the key to a football career that continues long into your 30s is playing with good team-mates.

Strachan enjoyed more than 20 years as a professional footballer, plying his trade at Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds United, as well as accumulating 50 international caps for Scotland.

Ryan Giggs continues to perform heroics for Manchester United at 38, while Paul Scholes (37) and Thierry Henry (34) recently made successful comebacks in the Premier League, prompting debate over how older players maintain their fitness.

"I came to retire at about 37," Strachan told Yahoo! "But I went to Coventry and I was persuaded by Ron Atkinson, then by players at the club, and then by the chairman at the club, that I should keep playing so that was my situation.

"There have been examples of people playing on - real top, top players - who have gone to a lower level and found it really hard, and then calling it a day.

"The secret of keeping playing for a long time is playing with good players."

Strachan played with Scottish legends Alex Mcleish, Jim Leighton and Will Millie while at Pittodrie Stadium, Mark Hughes and Bryan Robson at Old Trafford and Gary Speed and Eric Cantona at Elland Road during his distinguished career.

"The secret is to have good players around you, you still have to love the game and you have to look after yourself.

"You will find that the people who have played for a long time have looked after themselves really at an early age - 15 to 21 -so they have got a real base fitness in them.

"They trained hard at that period of time, and hard work is not hard work to them: it becomes the norm."

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By James Dickenson