MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TAL­ENT

Vet­eran goal king Jamie Cure­ton’s ad­vice:

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

SELF-CON­FESSED party an­i­mal Jamie Cure­ton cred­its the de­ci­sion to hang up his danc­ing shoes a decade ago as the rea­son he is still scor­ing goals aged 39.

And now English foot­ball’s old­est out­field player is on a mission to en­sure his young Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge team­mates do not make the same mis­takes he did.

Life­style

Cure­ton openly ad­mits the life­style choices he made amid rat­tling in goals for Bris­tol Rovers and Read­ing, af­ter burst­ing onto the scene with Nor­wich, cost him the chance to play at a higher level for a longer pe­riod of time and now, each sum­mer, he trav­els the breadth of the coun­try bid­ding to win a con­tract.

The dress­ing room he cur­rently finds him­self in is burst­ing with young tal­ent, des­per­ate to make a name for them­selves and move their ca­reer path up­wards.

Among them, 18-year-old Alex Jaku­biak, on loan from Wat­ford, hopped on the Dis­trict Line to get home from Da­gen­ham’s Tues­day night win over Hartle­pool, while Joss Labadie is an­other more ac­cus­tomed to us­ing an Oys­ter card than a credit card.

You will barely find a more down-to-earth bunch than at Vic­to­ria Road and Cure­ton hopes his pearls of wis­dom are pay­ing off.

“I talk to the boys all the time about not tak­ing things for granted,” he said. “When I hit 35 I tried a few dif­fer­ent things in or­der to keep play­ing. I had a diet change, I hadn’t re­ally been go­ing out since I was 30, but that stopped – the drink­ing, par­ty­ing.

“I knew if I wanted to play for longer I would have to sac­ri­fice more now than when I was a kid. I did and it’s paid off. I get ban­ter from the younger boys, they say ‘Oh, he’s off again’. But I do try and tell them, be­cause I started at the very top and I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate it. I didn’t do enough with the tal­ent I had, then I ended up drop­ping down and hav­ing to work my way back up.

“Even the guys in their mid-20s, they’re here and I’m say­ing ‘This is your plat­form’. Try to play higher and look af­ter your­self, be­cause you will hit 30 and think ‘I wish I had done that’. I know I do, but luck­ily I did some­thing about it. I didn’t play at the high­est level again, but played for longer and I try and get them to do that.

“If one player out of the squad takes that on board, then hope­fully I’ve done some­thing good.”

Cure­ton hit the 250th league goal of his ca­reer in Da­gen­ham’s 2-1 de­feat at Mans­field last week­end and still charges around the field with the same en­thu­si­asm he did as a teenager.

Though he turns 40 in Au­gust, re­tir­ing is not on the agenda – par­tic­u­larly with the Bris­tol-born ace fear­ing he may have missed the boat on a me­dia ca­reer.

“If I’d have re­tired at the nor­mal age, at 35, I would prob­a­bly have had an in some­where,” he added.

“It seems a lot of play­ers are go­ing down that route. They don’t want the pres­sure of man­age­ment and it’s a nice job.

“Big­ger stars are re­tir­ing like Thierry Henry, go­ing straight into a job and I’m think­ing I should have re­tired four years ago.

Knowl­edge

“I’ve been do­ing co-com­men­tary for Ra­dio Nor­folk on Nor­wich games, and who­ever I speak to I ask if there’s any work I can do, be­cause I en­joy it and I think I have a vast amount of knowl­edge hav­ing played from the Cham­pi­onship right through the Foot­ball League. Hope­fully that will be my in with some­one.

“If not then it will be foot­ball­re­lated, be­cause I’ve lit­er­ally done noth­ing else. I started my badges last year, but be­cause I was try­ing to earn a con­tract I couldn’t do my fi­nal as­sess­ment.

“So I do think about the fu­ture, but at the same time I’m still try­ing to play. I know my wife Lisa and my fam­ily moan, but my pri­or­ity is to play.

“It’s very hard to do that if I’m go­ing coach­ing un­til mid­night, driv­ing around ev­ery­where, so it’s try­ing to bal­ance ev­ery­thing.

“But I’m try­ing to pre­pare be­cause I know it will be a mas­sive void in my life. If I can stay in the game that will make me feel a lot hap­pier.”

DO­ING WHAT HE DOES BEST: Jamie Cure­ton scores for Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge against one of his old clubs, Ex­eter City

PLENTY TO SHOUT ABOUT: Cel­e­brat­ing for Read­ing and Queens Park Rangers

FLY­ING HIGH: Cure­ton started his ca­reer with Nor­wich and later re­turned

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