SELF-CONFESSED “fitness freak” Sam Collins says there is no reason why he cannot play until the end of the season for Hartlepool United.
The 36-year-old had been out of the starting XI picture for most of the campaign given the impressive form of Jack Baldwin and on-loan Christian Burgess.
But Collins is back playing after the sale of Baldwin to Peterborough United on transfer deadline day in a move potentially worth up to £750,000 and the veteran has made the most of his opportunity.
Collins – who enjoys taking part in triathlons as part of his fitness regime – has been a rock at the back for Pools, helping to record back-to-back clean sheets against Scunthorpe United and Dagenham & Redbridge in the two games he has played since returning.
The 6ft 2in defender insists he still loves the game as much today as he did when he started his career 20 years ago at Huddersfield Town and sees no reason why that can’t continue.
“I love playing and I always have done right from the age of 16,” said Collins, who joined Pools from Hull City on the final day of the January 2008 transfer window.
“I will never stop loving it.
“Playing football is the best thing ever for me and when you get older and don’t know how long you have left you do appreciate it a little bit more and have to make the most of any chances.
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“That is what I intend to do, for the love of playing.”
Pools’ number 5, who wore the captain’s armband in the 2-0 win over the Daggers at the weekend, likes to keep himself fit by doing extra running after training and also trying his hand at triathlons - which include running, swimming and cycling.
He has been pleased with his own form and is looking to stay in the team over the coming months.
Collins, who played his 11th game of the season at Dagenham, said: “Legs wise, I do more than enough throughout the week and in my spare time at home.
“I go out doing running and I also like doing triathlons and stuff like that, which all helps me.
“I am a bit of a fitness freak as they say, I can’t help myself.
“It helps me when it comes back to the football, which obviously works in my benefit.”
The former Bury and Port Vale defender added: “I feel good, I don’t feel tired and it’s nice to have a little run of games because it’s been a while obviously.
“At the end of the day, playing is what I love more than anything else and that will never change.
“Even when I do actually retire, I think I will miss it all the time and it’s been like that this season.
“But from day one, the gaffer and Higgy have been absolutely brilliant with me so that’s probably helped really because sometimes you can get frustrated.
“I’ve not done that, I’ve never got my head down – I’ve just thought it’s my job to help these young players now because we are a really young group, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”