Ballesteros’ secret to ageing

Sergio Ballesteros has reflected today on why he is still going strong in Levante’s defence at the age of 37.

The former Tenerife, Rayo Vallecano, Villarreal and Mallorca man is now in the fifth year of his second spell with Levante and enjoying some of his best form.

Speaking to AS in an interview published today, the defender reflected on what the key was to maintaining his place in a Primera Division side.

“Take care and have enthusiasm for what you do. We all want to extend our careers to their maximum. But this club provides very special conditions.

“We are down to earth, there is great enthusiasm from everyone to come to training and that is very important. The ambience is good too, our women get together for dinners too and it makes you want it to last longer.”

The defender is on target for an automatic renewal to his contract, which will be achieved once he reaches 25 appearances.

“I have understood that more is less. I will be very honest in saying when I will retire. I do not want to drag on. I want as much as possible to coincide with the club’s good moment, but quietly and little else. I will not wait for anyone to tell me to stop.”

Despite his age, Ballesteros is part of a defence that has conceded just the one goal from the last seven matches played in all competitions.

“It is our hallmark. The beginning of the season was strange, opponents scored many from outside the box, we had many penalties whistled against us… We were not used to it.

“Now we have that bit of luck that we lacked at the start and the commitment of all for not conceding a goal. The 4-0 defeat at Osasuna was a sign that we had to correct something we were not doing well.

“We started to improve and the win over Valencia was a turning point.”

Ballesteros’ appearance is often joked about, for the larger, less traditional frame he has for a footballer.

“I know what I am. I understand that some people might not like it, but what matters is that I do, that is what I feel and at all the clubs I have been at I have had the love of the fans and I have been very honest.

“Yes, I used to be the fastest until recently, it is true that you begin to notice the top speed is lost. Speed is something very specific and without it there is greater risk.

“Now I am making every effort to predict which way things will go…”

The veteran was asked of teammate Obafemi Martins’ comment recently, that the first time the striker heard about Levante was last season, when Ballesteros out-paced Cristiano Ronaldo in the team’s 1-0 win over Real Madrid.

“Yes? It is curious that we are known for a race that lasted four seconds when as a club we have a history of 103 years!”

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