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Burton Albion's Ian Sharps credits diet and sleep - as well as Tony Ford - for his longevity in football

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 22, 2014

By Tom Sloan

EXPERIENCED HAND ... Ian Sharps (left) passes on advice to Alex MacDonald.

EXPERIENCED HAND ... Ian Sharps (left) passes on advice to Alex MacDonald.

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IAN Sharps is hoping to extend his football career for as long as possible – and has taken the advice of Burton's Olympic legend Tony Ford to do so.

The 33-year-old central defender, a vital cog for the Brewers in the past two seasons, is making sure he looks after himself in the final few years of his playing career as he prepares to make his 500th Football League appearance against Newport tomorrow.

Like team-mate and great pal Shane Cansdell-Sherriff he has been drinking vegetable juice for the past five years and credits it, along with early nights, for taking his career towards the 600-game mark.

"To stay in the game at my age you've got to make sure your diet's right," said the defender.

"I've been onto it for a few years.

"For the past four or five years now I've been taking a vegetable juice.

"Now Shane's taken it into production and is trying to make money out of me!"

Sharps, like Cansdell-Sherriff, met Ford while the veteran Commonwealth gold medal winner was the fitness and conditioning coach at Shrewsbury, putting his knowledge of weightlifting and diet into football.

"Fordy came in at Shrewsbury when I first started there and used to give us this ridiculously hideous drink every day!" said Sharps.

"It really helped, though. We won promotion. And touch wood I haven't been ill since I had it.

"Health-wise, I haven't had coughs and colds for four or five years now.

"I've been feeling really healthy and it keeps your metabolism going. I think as you get older you start to put weight on and it's something you have to keep your eye on."

It is not just diet which Sharps credits with keeping him going in what has been an excellent career.

Doing different explosive training keeps him sharp during the season, and making sure he does not charge upfield during five-a-side training games is important.

"I have a lot of ice baths, do stretching, things like that," said the lifelong Liverpool fan. "I try to get to bed early too.

"I keep my fitness up and work with (sports scientist) Jack Sharkey throughout the season doing speed and power exercises, whereas maybe in your younger days you take that for granted.

"As a kid when we played five-a-sides I'd be up and down the pitch trying to score goals. I probably don't do that as much because I'm trying to conserve my energy.

"You do take a bit longer to recover, so if it's a hard exercise you have to make sure you do the right things afterwards."

Sharps is also preparing for life after football by doing a sports science degree and has also started coaching Shrewsbury's under-15 side.

"I'm enjoying it and really getting my teeth into it," he said.

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