‘I smoked 20 fags a day’ – Former England star on what life was like on international duty

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The life of an elite sportsman is one of consistent training and nutrition in order to maintain the highest levels of athleticism.

However, it’s not always been like that.

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Former England international goalkeeper, David James, has lifted the lid on what life was like on international duty back in the 1990s.

It’s safe to say that it doesn’t make for great reading but was clearly symptomatic of the time and, if anything, shows how far football as a sport in England has progressed in terms of its understanding of the various components that enhance performance.

“Peter Taylor was the first one to take me for a warm up,” James said on The Harry Redknapp Show podcast, cited by The Sun.

“It was weird: ‘we are going to go out for a warm up.’ He put me through my paces. I thought – ‘hang on a minute. I’m knackered.’ The fact that I smoked 20 fags a day didn’t help.

David James and his fellow England colleagues were always on the lash on international duty

“Things change. We used to meet up in the England squad back in the early 90s and the first thing you’d do is meet the whole staff in the bar down at Burnham Beeches.

“It was like.. well done this weekend guys. We will be training tomorrow at some point. And you’d be in the bar until two or three o clock in the morning. And that was just standard.

“You can imagine now. I can’t imagine Gareth Southgate saying come on lads meet you in the bar.”

When questions arise as to how it was that the Three Lions didn’t do so well in certain tournaments despite having, on paper, squads that were the equal of their international opponents, perhaps the way in which they were looking after themselves is the answer.

After all, it’s hardly the best preparation for a World Cup or European Championship.

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