Pompey midfielder: If aged 30-plus some assume you are washed up. They're wrong.
Carl Baker regrets the naivety of his youth.
Aged closer to 34 than 33, the midfielder is regarded as a veteran, perceived to inhabit the twilight of his footballing years.
Yet the Football League latecomer continues to revel in the best seasons of his life.
Baker has unearthed the youthful secrets to inspire him to success and achievement at a time when contemporaries are winding down.
It is a prized formula which ensured experienced duo Michael Doyle and Ben Davies were Pompey’s most consistent performers last term.
And how Pompey’s summer recruit wishes he could have imparted some game-changing wisdom to the 23-year-old Southport version of himself.
Baker said: ‘It makes me laugh when people raise the issue of your age.
‘If you are 30-plus some people automatically assume you are washed up and not going to have the same impact as a 25-year-old.
‘The older you get the more you look after yourself. I genuinely feel fitter now than I was when 23 because I live right.
‘Around 10 years ago I was drinking on a Saturday after a game. I wouldn’t eat well.
‘I was young and I didn’t feel I needed to look after myself. That is one of my biggest regrets.
‘It would be interesting to see what would have happened if I lived the first five years as I have done the last five.
‘Young lads in the game are being paid half-decent money and living a great lifestyle.
‘It is a whirlwind you get caught up in – you do not realise the most important thing is the football and looking after your body.
‘You can tell them until you are blue in the face but some of them don’t listen. That was probably me in my early 20s.
‘It’s all ifs and buts. I’ve had the career I’ve had but one of my biggest regrets is not living as well as I should when younger.
‘The last couple of seasons have probably been the best of my career.
‘Certainly the season before last at MK Dons when we were promoted and I was player of the year in front of the likes of Deli Alli, Will Grigg and Benik Afobe. I was aged 31 then.
‘If I was 25 I don’t think I would have had such an impact and I feel in a better condition now than 10 years ago.’
Baker was aged 24-and-a-half when making his Football League bow with Morecambe.
Snapped up from non-league Southport, he went on to represent Stockport, Coventry and MK Dons during the next nine seasons.
And having played catch-up, he believes he still has several years to go.
He added: ‘I was a late developer. Some lads physically fill out at 15 but when I left school I was the smallest kid there.
‘I was tiny. I didn’t start growing until I was 18.
‘I believe the fact I developed so late physically will be better on my bones and muscles.
‘Other lads develop at 14 and put all that football through their body but I haven’t done that. Hopefully I have a couple of years in me.’