Sylvain Distin wants to play until he's 65
Everton defender Sylvain Distin has told the Mail on Sunday he would love to be able to play until he is 65.
The centre-back recently signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him at Goodison Park beyond his 37th birthday, this coming December, and through to the summer of 2015.
In February 2013, Distin became the first overseas outfield player to make 400 Premier League appearances.
And the Frenchman is inspired by the longevity of Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who is still playing English top-flight football at the age of 40.
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But he admits that it is getting harder to keep up with the power and speed of younger players, pointing to the example of Everton teammate Romelu Lukaku, on a season’s loan from Chelsea.
Distin said: “It gets more difficult every year because of the strikers that are around. Look at Romelu. He is 20, taller than me, my weight, and he is naturally like that. I go to the gym every day to be like that. He doesn’t have to do anything.
“I just want to play on for as long as possible. If it was up to me, I would like to play until I am 65.
“Being a footballer is an amazing job. It brings a feeling to your life you never experience in any other way.”
Distin puts his longevity doing to a healthy diet when he was growing up, and a lot of hard work on the training ground.
He said: “There aren’t many guys my age in the Premier League. Those who manage it, such as Ryan Giggs, all have to work at it.”
The 36-year-old, who is the oldest regular Premier League player of 2014, added: “I started with good genes from my parents but I also made a big decision when I turned 30 to work hard to keep what I’ve got.
“Every summer, I take two weeks off my holiday to go to a training camp where I work two sessions a day, just to be ready physically when I come back to Everton for preseason training.
“During the season, I go to the gym every day unless we are playing or it’s the day before a game. Is that luck? It is more about the work that I put in and I am getting the rewards for it now.
“I don’t do it for pleasure, that’s for sure. It is something you have to do if you want to keep up after you pass a certain age.
“Strikers now are bigger, stronger, faster. You can’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best against them.”
Distin, though, does credit his parents Bertrand and Ida for playing a part in his ability to keep going at the top level.
He said: “My dad is from Guadeloupe, in the West Indies. Over there, you grew up outside. Fresh food was all around you; fish, vegetables, fruit. There was no need for processed food so he grew up in the right way, on a good diet.
“He is going to be 74 soon and still plays basketball every Friday. I’ve always been active, I was always active as a kid growing up in France, whether it was football, basketball or even climbing trees.”