Milner: Football career too short for booze
Published 22:55 26/11/11 By Simon Mullock
James Milner has never been tempted to join football’s band of Booze Brothers.
The Manchester City midfielder ran an astonishing 14 kilometres in the midweek Champions League defeat at Napoli.
And for that kind of dedication to the game, he insists he has to be tee-total.
“I don’t drink because I want to be the best professional I can,” said Milner as he prepared to address a supporters’ club meeting in Rochdale, less than 24 hours after the disappointment in Italy.
“You only get one shot at this career and I will do anything I can to make the best of my ability.
“A footballer’s career is short. I was fortunate enough to start very young — so that has helped me — but I want to be playing this game for as long as I can.
“I know I am fortunate to be doing something that I really love, so taking the decision not to have a drink isn’t really a big thing to me.”
Milner was a boy wearing the colours of his hometown club Leeds when he became the youngest player to score a goal in the Premier League at 16 years and 356 days.
Nine years on — after spells at Newcastle and Aston Villa — he has become a key part of the City squad that has stormed to the top of the Premier League. And he is trying to take in every single moment of it.
“It all seems to have gone so fast,” he added. “I had always dreamed of being a footballer and to make my debut for Leeds so soon after leaving school was unbelievable.
“I remember Nigel Martyn, our keeper at Leeds, joking with me that he was old enough to be my dad. I remember him saying, ‘Make sure you enjoy it because it will pass you by in a flash’. I said ‘Yeah, leave it out, Nige. I’m only 16’.
“But here I am almost 10 years later and I’ve got to admit that Nigel is obviously a lot wiser than he looks!”
Milner cost City £24million when they signed him from Villa 18 months ago.
And although he has regularly kept players like Nigel de Jong and Samir Nasri out of Roberto Mancini’s side this term, he admits he did need to seek reassurances from the City boss last season.
Milner said: “We have got a huge squad at City, but, as a footballer, you want to play in every game. I did go to see the manager a couple of times last season. We had some honest conversations and I went away, kept working hard and tried to get in the team. I’m a lot happier now.
“But I always seem to remember the poor performances. Last season, I made my debut when we beat Liverpool 3-0 at home, but the game that really sticks in my mind is when we lost 3-0 at Anfield later in the season. I was substituted.
“I think we all remember that game — and I can tell you that the lads want to put things right when we go there.”