When Kevin Mirallas returned to Everton for pre-season training, his new boss Ronald Koeman pulled him aside for a quiet chat.
More after the break
Rather than enquiring about his summer holidays, the Dutchman informed the forward he needed to lose weight to make the most of his athletic qualities.
“I’d probably put on a couple of pounds over summer, but I didn’t think previously that I was carrying too much weight,” Mirallas told FFT.
“But the manager told me to lose three kilograms, so I went away and lost the weight. Once I’d lost that, he then told me to lose another three kg!”
Additional training sessions and dietary adjustments saw Mirallas drop from 79kg to 73kg over a period of two to three weeks.
“My wife is Italian and has always made me a lot of pasta, but I’ve cut down on my portion sizes,” he added.
“I’ve kept my diet very simple by eating lots of white chicken, fish, fruit, salad and healthy carbohydrates. Now I only drink water as well – no fizzy drinks!”
In his first training session after reaching his target weight, Koeman made Mirallas wear a 6kg-weighted vest to illustrate the extra mass he was previously carrying.
“I think that really made me realise the difference it’s made,” said the Belgium international. “ As a forward speed is so important – I need to be able to change direction quickly, which I can do more easily now.
“Some players are strong on the pitch but they’re slow. If you look at players like me, [Riyad] Mahrez, [Eden] Hazard, [Yannick] Bolasie, we’re not big players, but we’re quick – speed is more important than strength for us.
Mirallas turned 29 in October and admits his physical conditioning will be key if he is to prolong his career at the top level into his mid-30s.
“Keeping your body in shape is so important – when you’re younger it’s probably a bit easier to stay in shape, but as you get older you have to do that extra work to maintain your condition.”
Kevin Mirallas wears the new Barracuda/Atomic New Balance Football Furon boots. To find out more about New Balance Football go tonewbalance.com/football or follow @NBFootball on Twitter and Instagram, @nbfootballofficial on Facebook and NB.Football on Snapchat