UP­SON: I STILL FEEL LIKE I’M 21!

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Joshua Richards

MATTHEW Up­son is older than his man­ager, but be­lieves his young-at-heart at­ti­tude makes their re­la­tion­ship at MK Dons work per­fectly.

The 36-year-old for­mer Eng­land de­fender was snapped up by boss Karl Robin­son, 34, in the sum­mer, adding vi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence to the Cham­pi­onship new-boys’ squad.

Not only are they get­ting on fa­mously off the pitch, but on the field are get­ting the right re­sults too, with the Dons sit­ting pretty in mid-ta­ble and through to the Cap­i­tal One Cup third round.

“We have had a great start. Re­al­is­ti­cally we couldn’t have wished for much bet­ter and I don’t see any rea­son why that should change,” said Up­son, who won 21 caps for Eng­land, scor­ing twice.

Re­spect

“The man­ager iden­ti­fied that he needed a player of ex­pe­ri­ence and that worked in my favour. Some­times age is seen as a neg­a­tive but it worked out well for me, even though the man­ager is younger than me!

“But that isn’t a prob­lem. In my mind I’m still 21, so as far as I’m con­cerned he’s in charge and has my re­spect.”

Up­son’s days of Premier League football looked to have come to an end two years ago when he swapped Stoke for Brighton. But a full sea­son’s football con­vinced Nigel Pear­son to add Up­son to his Le­ices­ter squad last term.

In­jury and cir­cum­stance meant the for­mer Lu­ton trainee had to wait un­til Fe­bru­ary for his de­but and he added only five more ap­pear­ances af­ter that in Le­ices­ter colours.

His switch to MK Dons looks to be the start of a new chap­ter, but Up­son looks back fondly at what he’s achieved.

“I’ve still got great mem­o­ries of my time in the Premier League and play­ing with Eng­land,” added Up­son, who won the Premier League with Ar­se­nal in 2002. “I’m proud to look back at some re­ally pos­i­tive achieve­ments. Some­times it feels like a long time ago, but it does make me feel good when I look back.

“When you think about the rich pick­ings Eng­land man­agers had to choose from in de­fence I think that makes my achieve­ments with Eng­land all the bet­ter.”

But rather than spend too much time dwelling on the past, Up­son is ex­cited for his fu­ture and is putting in ex­tra work away from the train­ing pitch to en­sure he does not have to hang up his boots any­time soon.

“I had a bit of catch­ing up to do this sum­mer in terms of gain­ing some match prac­tice. I’ve done my own pre-sea­son work and I came through last Satur­day’s game with­out any prob­lems so I’m feel­ing good,” he said. “I have al­ways done my own work on move­ment and stretches out­side of the club and I have built the best pro­gramme with peo­ple who I think are good at what they do. With­out it I wouldn’t be play­ing football now.

“It’s some­thing I’ve been do­ing for five or six years. A friend of mine in­tro­duced me to some­one who spe­cialises in im­prov­ing con­di­tion­ing and we meet up once a week.

“When you play football ev­ery day for 20 years you are al­ways go­ing to pick up lit­tle nig­gles, so it’s just a case of en­sur­ing my body stays fit and strong.

“I want to play for as long as pos­si­ble, whether that’s in the Cham­pi­onship or another league. I don’t like to put lim­i­ta­tions on any­thing.

“I’m do­ing my coach­ing badges, but for now my full fo­cus is on play­ing. It’s a short-lived ca­reer and ev­ery­body says play for as long as you can, so that’s what I in­tend to do.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MR EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Matthew Up­son con­trol­ling the ball for MK Dons un­der pres­sure and, inset, scor­ing for Eng­land against Ger­many at the 2010 World Cup YOUNG BOSS: MK Dons man­ager Karl Robin­son

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