Unity’s co-founder explains why he trains and how to stay healthy for life
Fit and healthy for life
I still train regularly and eat healthily
I wasn’t like this right away. The version of what you see today is a result of learning and educating myself over a period of many years. Let’s not forget I had a career at the top level football for 15 years. I had access to the top doctors, facilities and nutritionists, so obviously you acquire knowledge.
Being healthy isn’t just about playing football
I definitely think taking care of my nutrition and recovery, the parts lots of people overlook, has helped me to last longer in football. But more important than playing football, it has helped me improve my wellbeing and my lifestyle in general. Before being an athlete I’m a human being and even if I stopped playing at the age of 35, 37, 39, I hopefully have another 50 years to live. I want to live as healthily as possible for as long as possible.
I was at my fittest from 24 to 29
I was at Arsenal and then moved to Milan and I would say across those five years, I could play every few days and recovery didn’t have to be an obsession. It’s purely a fitness thing which is making you perform. Maybe later in your career your experience can compensate for fitness, allowing you to still be at your best. But in that 5 year period, it was all fitness. You recover much quicker and you don’t worry about recovering in time.
You have very little time to recover
After a big game usually you don’t sleep because of the adrenaline. I like to have one or two coffees before the game. I’m someone who’s already hyperactive so I don’t have coffee usually, otherwise I’d be on the roof.
Because of the coffee and because of the adrenaline of the game I’d be awake. You can end up going to bed at 5 in the morning. But playing every three days it was important to move on, turn the page and not dwell. If not you risk losing the next one.
I always liked the Premier League.
It’s a game which is very physical, you need great stamina and to perform at the highest intensity and it suited me well. In Italy it’s much more of a tactical game. In the Premier League you have to excel in every single aspect of the game, both mentally and physically.
Prevention is better than cure
Usually the training is harder than the games.
The way you train is the way you play so the training was intensive, a repetition of effort and the training was physical. We’d be training every day for hours. You have a few hours on the pitch, then the gym then prevention and treatment.
Prevention of injury is what’s important
The biggest fear of an athlete, probably even before under performing, is getting injured because as you can imagine you can’t perform and you’re out of the team. Taking the time to prepare your body, train correctly, work on your weaknesses and eat right will help prevent injuries.
Routine is extremely important.
For me I drink a minimum of 3 litres of water every day. Then you have to eat healthily. The healthier you eat the quicker you recover, the better you perform. And still, stretching is important because as athletes you need to retain muscle elasticity and flexibility. This still applies to every day life, away from the pitch, and helps keep me healthy.