Football’s developments off the pitch in recent years has done wonders for players continuing their careers on it.
Chelsea legend Eden Hazard shocked fans by announcing his retirement at the age of 32, with a number of his peers bidding to keep going until their forties.
The increased investment in sports science and nutrition at elite clubs has naturally increased the health and recovery of stars who no longer dine on smoking and drinking alcohol.
Put simply, a prolonged career at the top level is usually down to a clean diet and a strict training regime.
However, some stars have broken the mould with some unique practices to keep their careers going…
The 38-year-old’s fitness regime is the stuff of legend and is something credited with his incredible longevity in the game.
But it’s not just his strict diet that Ronaldo keeps control over – his secret weapon is that he sleeps five times a day while in the fetal position.
Sleep guru Nick Littlehales revealed his habits after he worked with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner during his time at Real Madrid.
Ronaldo prefers to take 90-minute bursts of shut-eye throughout his day rather than get a full eight hours uninterrupted.
Littlehales told The Independent: “Anyone who has ever worked with Ronaldo knows that if you have a discussion in the corner of the room, he will come over and ask what you are talking about.
“I was invited to Real Madrid when Carlo Ancelotti became manager [in 2013]. I was standing on the edge of the training pitch, talking to the Madrid staff, when Ronaldo ran over.
“He had been training all day and you would have expected him to run straight to the dressing room for a shower but he asked what we were discussing.
“He was interested in what I was trying to do because as an athlete he has always invested in himself.
“From what I have learned from working with him, Ronaldo is not interested in fad diets, he is not interested in copying others. The only thing he is concerned with is: does it work for him?”
The world’s oldest footballer is still going strong at 56 years old and it may be to do with his radical fitness plans.
The Oliveirense forward, who is on loan from J1 League club Yokohama FC, drinks specially imported carbonated water from Italy.
Miura is also up at 5am to eat breakfast that is prepared by his own personal nutritionist and checks his body fat daily.
The New York Times reports that if King Kazu’s iron levels are ever low, he simply finds a restaurant and eats liver.
The former England international was obsessed with prolonging his career after returning from a two-year absence from football.
Townsend is a month into a short-term deal at Luton Town and puts his resurgence down to eating chicken feet.
The 32-year-old is also a practitioner of taping his mouth to improve his breathing quality, something Erling Haaland also does.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club, Townsend said: “I’ve only got a three-month contract. Luton need to use me straight away and I need to make sure I’m fit. One of the best natural sources of collagen is chicken feet. It is simple.
“It tastes exactly like a chicken wing. It is low on meat, it has a lot of cartilage close to the bone. It’s got skin around it. It’s very nice. In China, South Africa and in Portugal, it is eaten quite commonly.
“It’s 20 minutes in the steam oven and get it down you. Mouth taping, I am doing that. All I know is that I am 32 years of age, I’ve been out of the game for two years and I feel absolutely amazing.”
The Everton defender is the second oldest player in the Premier League behind Thiago Silva and was labelled ‘a machine’ by Antonio Conte when they worked together at Inter Milan.
But the 38-year-old doesn’t just keep himself in top shape with ice baths, he also allows himself to indulge in sweets and chocolates.
He told the Sun in April 2023: “A lot is said about diet and to know what to eat and drink.
“But I don’t cut out everything. I have a sweet tooth — I blame my dad for that — and I have got a cupboard full of sweets, chocolates and biscuits.
“I would like to say I only eat them after a game but . . . ”