ROBBIE’S DEGREE OF COMFORT
WHEN footballers turn 30, those not lucky enough to earn six-figure salaries each week tend to make plans for the future knowing time will soon be up for their weary legs.
But Cambridge United striker Robbie Simpson admits he was preparing for retirement before he had even kicked his first ball in anger!
After being tied to Norwich City for six years during his school days, Simpson always looked likely to make the grade.
But he left Carrow Road in 2002 and went to Loughbor- ough University to study for a maths and sports science degree while playing for Cambridge City.
A transfer to the city’s higher level club followed and a Football League career began.
Now back at Cambridge after running out in five other clubs’ colours in the intervening years, Simpson struck his eighth goal of the season against Stevenage a couple of weeks ago – just hours before turning 30.
A quiet night in rather than a big blow-out followed, yet his coming of age does not mean he has to start coming to terms with impending retirement – because he’s been doing it for years.
“I’m a bit different to the majority,” he said. “I thought about my future before I started, I’ve been to university and got my degree.
“From a young age I wanted to gain enough qualifications to go into whatever it is I decide to do. I’ve started my coaching badges as well, and have a few other things going on, so hopefully I will be ready for whatever life throws at me, whether I stay in the game or not.
“But I think I have a good few playing years left in me yet. In my opinion, 30 is the new 20!
“The fitness levels of players over 30 now are amazing, so you might go on a bit longer, but it’s still not forever so you still need some qualifications behind you.”
On the pitch, the U’s were lying 18th in the League Two table before yesterday’s trip to bottom club Hartlepool.
Yet Simpson insists he has no regrets about returning to where it all began after leaving Leyton Orient in the summer.
“Cambridge gave me my start,” added the former Coventry, Huddersfield, Brentford and Oldham hitman.
“I wanted to come back because I felt I could achieve something with the club now back in the Football League.
“I have a few friends who work at the club and I have moved a bit nearer Cambridge now. At the moment, I’m very happy.
“Perhaps things have not quite gone as we would have planned this season. But if we were in the play-off places, people would say we had over-achieved.
“It’s been a transitional year, but hopefully we will stay up, then who knows where we can go in the future?”
GETTING STUCK IN: Robbie Simpson wants to keep on playing for a long time yet