Interview with Garath McCleary: Wycombe winger on impressing at 35, coping with chronic pain and postponing retirement plans | football news

Interview with Garath McCleary: Wycombe winger on impressing at 35, coping with chronic pain and postponing retirement plans | football news

#Interview #Garath #McCleary #Wycombe #winger #impressing #coping #chronic #pain #postponing #retirement #plans #football #news Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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A typical soccer career is so short that any outfield player who continues to play regularly into their mid-30s deserves credit.

As is keeping a starting spot and delivering goals and assists galore in the twilight of a career, maybe even more.

Step forward, Garath McCleary.

The 35-year-old winger has been a key figure at Wycombe since joining the Buckinghamshire club as a free agent in November 2020 and after contributing 11 goals and seven assists in 45 League One games in 2021/22, he has already scored four and assisted another four in 19 games this season.

The numbers are encouraging, especially given that with another 24 league games to play he could well undo his return from the previous season.

But equally, they could be taken for granted for McCleary, who has put in place the processes and practices necessary to maintain his elite-level performance.

“The Gaffer [Gareth Ainsworth] has been brilliant for me in terms of staying within age and leaving what I’m doing in training,” he says in an exclusive interview with InNewCL Sports.

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Here are the nominees for November’s Sky Bet League One Goals of the Month awards.

“My physical performance was pretty much the same when I was a little younger, so there haven’t been many changes, but I’ve been working to look for that extra percentage, whether it’s with diet or fitness programs I’ve been doing.

“I won’t say I’m a teetotaler and don’t have the odd cheat day or two, but those days are rare compared to my younger days. I know my body much better and today I am more concerned with nutrition than ever.

“You learn that with age and I’ve tried to help the younger players here find their peak now rather than trying to look for that when they’re older.

“I know you lose a little bit as you get older, but the more you put in, the more you get out, so I’ve done a lot to keep up the performance. I’ll be honest, but I feel like I could have done a little more.”

Image: McCleary has eight goals in 19 League One games so far this season

On Nov. 4, McCleary posted a video of himself in the gym on Instagram with the caption, “11+ years of quadriceps tendon pain, years of pain meds my path. Consistency is key.”

A routine that significantly reduced the chronic pain helped him.

“I still have pain from time to time, but it’s about dealing with it,” he explains. “For years I’ve been on anti-inflammatories, but this entire season I haven’t been on any.

“I have a fitness regimen that the physical therapists here were able to put together for me and it’s just due diligence to do it every day or every other day and do as much as possible. I am thankful that I was able to get to a place where they could make it and I was able to play games with less pain than when I was younger.

“But as the weather gets colder I find that the pain becomes more evident, so I’ll probably have to play in a hot country at some point!”

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Highlights of the Sky Bet League One clash between Wycombe Wanderers and Ipswich Town

It was quite a turning point for McCleary, who admits he was contemplating retirement as an eight-year tenure at Reading came to an end in the summer of 2020.

Not only has he continued for two years and a month since he first signed for the Chairboys, it seems the idea of ​​quitting has completely deserted him for now. Having seen former teammates Adebayo Akinfenwa and Jobi McAnuff – as well as manager Gareth Ainsworth – carry on after their 40th birthday, he has the inspiration he needs.

“Bayo had his injuries and I saw how he got over them. There were games where he was in so much pain but he dealt with it,” he adds.

“Jobi was definitely one of the best captains I’ve ever had. Seeing how he did and how he excelled playing to 40 is definitely something I’m going to take and look at and think if they can do it then I can eventually do it also.

“The gaffer also played until he was 41 so I told him I will definitely try to compete with that and try to get to that stage too!

“I’m still fast, but I’m probably not as fast as I am, so you have to be able to read the game a little bit better. I’ve also played in a lot more different positions, so I’ve played up front, in the No .10, in midfield, on both wings That may have come with age, as well as the gaffer’s confidence and understanding.

Image: The 35-year-old has joked with Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth that he will live up to his retirement age of 41

Wycombe is seventh in League One and heads into Bristol Rovers’ Boxing Day visit to Adams Park, two points clear of the play-offs, which were not happy ones after last season’s defeat by Sunderland – McCleary’s third career defeat at Wembley evoke memories. “Where we are in the table doesn’t reflect where we want to be,” he says.

Talks of another top-six finish are premature at this point as the chairboys aren’t even through halftime. But McCleary readily admits he’d like to make another leap into the Championship – having played 11 seasons with Nottingham Forest and Reading in the division, after all.

“I would 100 per cent happily go back there, although I don’t know if there are any 36-year-old wingers in the league!

“Doing it with Wycombe would be brilliant for me, the gaffer and the fans who haven’t been able to see us play in the Championship during the Covid year. Just to be back there at my age would be an achievement.”

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