Louis Carey relishing 18th season at Bristol City
BRISTOL City defender Louis Carey has revealed how a change in lifestyle has helped prolong his playing career.
The Bristolian readily admits he ate the wrong things and partook in the drinking culture that was prevalent at Ashton Gate until a few years ago.
But a combination of advancing years and the strict disciplinary code installed by former manager Gary Johnson led Carey to re-evaluate his approach to football and change his ways once he passed his 30th birthday.
Now 35 and with 625 first-team appearances under his belt, the popular defender is set to embark upon an 18th season at Ashton Gate after penning a new one-year deal.
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Speaking exclusively to The Post, Carey admitted: "I used to live wrong and do things I should not have done.
"That may be the kind of thing you get away with when you are young, but it catches up with you sooner or later.
"I realised when I reached 30 that I had to change my ways and do things differently if I wanted to carry on playing.
"I was still enjoying training, but I would feel absolutely dreadful after games and it was taking my body longer and longer to recover. I knew I had to do something."
Encouraged by his wife, Victoria, and members of Johnson's backroom staff, Carey drastically altered his diet, cutting out fatty and sugar-saturated foods and adopting a far more responsible approach when it came to alcohol.
He revealed: "My new diet is full-on and has made an amazing difference. I've completely cut out yeast, potato, sugar and diary products.
"Every player is different and it is a matter of discovering what works for you. I underwent intolerance tests and they helped educate me. Now I feel so much better in myself.
"I've learned to look after my body and now my body is looking after me. The changes I made have definitely helped me carry on playing the game I love well into my 30s."
City manager Derek McInnes insists it is up to Carey how many games he plays next season.
The Scot is looking to strengthen his defence during the summer transfer window, but says Carey will have an opportunity to force his way into City's Championship starting XI just like any other player.
McInnes said: "I'm delighted Louis has now signed his deal. He certainly played his part at the end of last season with a strong run in the team.
"It's well documented that we're looking to strengthen in the defensive areas, but I think that's something Louis relishes. He will enjoy the competition that will bring.
"It will down to Louis how much he plays next season. I know he looks after his body and keeps himself fit. He's also a great person to have in and around the dressing room with so much knowledge and experience."
Carey's performances towards the end of last season proved crucial in helping the Robins stave off the threat of relegation and the veteran centre-back feels confident he can still cut it at Championship level.
He said: "If I felt the rest of the lads were carrying me or that I was unable to keep up with the training and do myself justice in the games, I would not have signed this deal.
"Last season went well for me once I got back into the side at Christmas and I honestly did not feel out of place. I have something to offer the team with all my years of experience and I certainly won't be here just to make up the numbers. I want to play my part.
"I'm a Bristol boy and I love the club and the city. This deal is nothing to do with finances, I'm motivated by other things and I just want to carry on playing football for Bristol City."
Currently the club's second highest appearance holder, Carey could yet surpass the late great John Atyeo's record of 645 in the forthcoming campaign.
The club captain has already been granted a testimonial match on Saturday, August 4 against local rivals Bristol Rovers and he is determined to feature in McInnes's plans when the Championship campaign kicks off two weeks later.