BY MAX HALL
On the eve of becoming Welsh football’s first male centurion, Charlton full-back Chris Gunter has revealed he has started thinking about a coaching career but has no intention of hanging up his boots, for club or country, just yet.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the future but it’s good to be doing your [coaching] badges,” he said. “You get to a point in your career where you think about when football does finish.”
The 99-times-capped defender is set to make his 100th appearance for Wales in a friendly against Mexico in Cardiff tomorrow night and is in the squad for Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against the Czechs, also on home soil.
Asked about his post-playing career, though, the Addicks defender said: “When you’ve played a lot of games, for club or country, sometimes people can forget your age and they see you as old, or whatever. I’m 31, which I still consider, in football, is quite young.
“There is a stigma that once you have a three in front of your age, you’re coming towards the end [of a playing career]. If you have a bad game at 29, you had a bad game, if you have a bad game at 30, it’s because you’re getting old, which doesn’t make much sense to me.
“But I feel really good, physically. Playing three times a week is not really a problem. Things can change quickly, of course, but you always want more success with club and country, you certainly don’t feel it’s something you can’t do. [Retirement is] decided by your body really, not so much your age.”
Asked what continues to motivate him as a player, the Addicks defender said: “Hopefully more caps and good times for club and country.”
Stand-in Wales manager Robert Page, deputising for Ryan Giggs while the former Manchester United ace is on bail until May 1 for alleged assault, paid tribute the experienced defender.
“I keep saying it every time I work with him,” said Page.”He’s a model professional, a manager’s dream. He just gets on with his work. He trains as he plays and he has thoroughly deserved his 100 caps and all the credit he’s going to get for having achieved that. It’s great to be a part of that with him. Good lads… you want to see people do well and he’s certainly one of them.”
Page also said an injury-plagued season for Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had influenced his decision to keep faith with Leicester City keeper Danny Ward for Wednesday night’s 3-1 defeat in Belgium, in the nation’s opening World Cup qualifier.
“It seems that Wardy’s got the position at the moment, he’s been playing because of Wayne’s injury,” said Page. “We know we’ve got a world-class goalkeeper in Wayne Hennessey as well, that’s unfortunately been injured for a large part of last season, which has been frustrating for him.
“Our decision to play Wardy [against Belgium] was because he’s probably the fittest out of the two at this time, but things could change overnight.”
PHOTO: PAUL EDWARDS
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