The former Liverpool and England player turned Sky Sports pundit and now Skechers ambassador talks fitness, the media and whether he’ll ever go into management.
You stopped playing professional football in 2005, but is fitness still a big part of your life?
It’s a massive part of my life, on so many levels. Mentally, as much as anything, it means a lot. I don’t train hard every day, but I do like to do some form of exercise – be it playing golf, going for a walk, a quick HIIT session – most days, because if I don’t do something I don’t feel right.
Exercise allows you to enjoy the little things like a nice meal, or maybe a glass of wine. I also like to look good, I like to look smart, and some people might say that’s a bit vain but exercise allows me to feel good about myself.
Do you have a weekly routine?
I play golf two or three times a week – and Skechers have got a great range of golf shoes for that – and I like to train at least three times a week, either with my trainer, who’s a guy called Omar, or if I’m short on time I’ll jump on Peloton and do a quick 30-minute cycle.
Why did Skechers as a brand appeal to you?
I’ve always been into trainers and footwear in general, and I’m getting to an age where I want comfort as well as style.
There’s always the question, “Do you actually wear the trainers?” And I can honestly say the pair I wear to train are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. That’s what I’m looking for: a stylish trainer that’s really comfortable and I feel good wearing it.”
What was the biggest lesson you learned from your career as a top-level athlete?
I suppose the biggest mistakes I made were around not listening to my body enough. I had a lot of injuries and the worst thing I did was play through injury.
There were times when I should have said, “I’m not right today,” but I always wanted to play. All you end up doing is making it ten times worse and instead of being out for two or three weeks you’re out for months.
I came back from injury when I tore my meniscus and within two weeks I was playing for Liverpool – that’s not normal behaviour, that’s really stupid!
So that would be one lesson learned, and I think it can be advice for everyone: listen to your body, and if you don’t feel quite right, don’t force it.
Were you able to play through injury because the sports science wasn’t what it is today?
Yeah I would say so, but I think even today I would be doing all I could to play. I never wanted to let the manager or the team down, so I would never admit to not feeling 100 per cent. That’s just how I was.
What do you make of the current England team’s chances at the Euros next year?
We’ve got good players, but like in any tournament you’re going to need a little bit of luck to win it.
There’s been a bit of behind-the-scenes stuff going on with some of the young players, which has been a distraction, but I’m not going to have a go at these guys because young men make mistakes – I almost got kicked out of the Euro 96 squad, so I know what it’s like.
But it’s a media circus now and everyone’s watching every move they make, so they have to behave like monks and it’s not that easy.
Do you think that media scrutiny is more intense than it was when you were playing?
It is and it isn’t. When I played we had to be just as careful, because everyone was out to get you and in some ways the press were a lot more intrusive – they were fierce and they could write stories that didn’t even have to be true.
You’ve enjoyed an equally successful career off the pitch, but are there any plans to move back into the world of professional football at any point?
I’d never say never, but I’m having such a good time with everything I do off the pitch. I’ve got lots of things keeping me occupied and right now I don’t feel compelled to go back into football.
I do my punditry work with Sky, but football management is so intense and precarious. Football’s in my blood and I dream about it every night without fail, so I would never say never, but right now I’m happy doing what I’m doing.
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