Millwall keeper Bart Bialkowski on why going vegan has helped him stack up impressive Championship sequence

Bart Bialkowski has clocked up 110 successive Championship starts for Millwall – and the experienced goalkeeper reckons going vegan has played a part in that run.

The 34-year-old has played every minute for the Lions in the league since he replaced Frank Fielding in the 34th minute of the 2019-20 opener against Preston at The Den.

Bialkowski has won the last two Player of the Year awards, providing stability in a position that had been in a state of flux. Ben Amos, Jordan Archer and David Martin all had stints between the posts in the campaign and failed to convince then boss Neil Harris before Bialkowski arrived on a free transfer from Ipswich Town.

The Poland stopper needs just four more outings to hit the 300-game mark in the Championship. Centre-back Alex Pearce (331) is the only member of the Millwall squad to have featured more times at the level.

“The key is to stay healthy and fit,” Bialkowski told the South London Press about his unbroken run in the Lions side. “But with experience you also become more consistent. You know your game. But it is also about your diet, recovery and relationship with the goalkeeping coach. I talk to LT [Lee Turner] on a daily basis about what I need to do. Maybe I do something less than other keepers because I’m not getting any younger. I need to be clever with that as well.

“Sometimes less is more, if you know what I mean. It doesn’t mean I’m not working hard. I’ve found a balance with LT that gets the best out of me.

“I’ve gone vegan in the last couple of years and that has helped a lot with my recovery, in terms of getting less inflammation in my body. I watched a programme on it that interested me and just thought ‘I’m going to try it for a couple of weeks and see if I see any difference’. After the first week I felt awful, it was my body getting rid of the toxins in my system. I had massive headaches. But after two weeks I felt great, better than I used to after games.

“Sleep is crucial. I try to get eight hours overnight. I’ve never had any sleep problems but it is a little bit harder after games, especially if it is an away one. You’re getting back at a crazy time and it can be difficult to relax.”

Bialkowski had conceded 19 goals in as many Championship matches this season. Only the top three – and miserly Derby County – have better defensive records.

“I get massive help from my team-mates,” said Bialkowski. “There have been games where I’ve virtually had one save to make and then matches where I’ve had to make five or six. But overall we have been defensively solid for the last three years and it’s something we work at on the training pitch. This is definitely our strengths.”

Some sections of Millwall’s support have wanted more expansive football. That inevitably gives the opposition more opportunities down the other end.

“We have to be strong defensively to be able to go and win the game,” said Bialkowski. “Especially in this league, it is so tough.

“We’ve proved we can be a really good side. We maybe should’ve had more points than we had, because it’s not like we’re not creating anything.

“Teams like Bournemouth, Fulham and West Brom have such talented players. Maybe we don’t have the funds to get them type of players.

“But also, it could be difficult and tricky – because I’ve been in a similar position at Ipswich when they got relegated from the Championship.

“We had a new manager and he tried to play offensive and good football for the fans. We tried to play football from the back. That didn’t work but we kept trying – and we went down. So sometimes people don’t realise what they want. To be able to play that football you need to have everything – facilities, a good pitch and good players. With good players comes money.

“So we’re doing a fantastic job. The gaffer is doing a fantastic job with us. To be in the position we are and the finish in the last two seasons – not far from the play-offs – is something we can be proud of.

“We can look to try and be even better. It is a fantastic place and a great manager.

“Sometimes it is the small details between winning, drawing or losing.”



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