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Walsall's Mat Sadler has no plans to retire

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall defender Mat Sadler has insisted he currently has no plans to end his playing days.

Mat Sadler

Now aged 35, the centre-back’s 18-year career has seen him have two spells with the Saddlers, alongside several other clubs including Birmingham, Watford and Shrewsbury.

Since rejoining the club in the summer, Sadler has made 32 appearances in a solid personal campaign and says that as long as he can physically compete, he’ll continue to play.

“I feel very proud to be playing football still at 35, I’m very happy, fit and healthy,” he said. “As long as I’m feeling well and fortunately, I’ve not had any bad injuries throughout my career.

“I don’t wake up feeling stiff and sore, so as long as I’m feeling well and contributing, I’m very happy playing.

“I think as long as you’re contributing out there, whether your 18 or 35, and doing the things the manager wants you to do, age is irrelevant.”

Several younger players have impressed for the club recently, with Rory Holden and Elijah Adebayo hitting a purple patch.

That progression is something that Sadler says he enjoys, as he watches the club’s young charges go from strength to strength.

“I think naturally as a player entering that stage of your career, you take things on that you perhaps wouldn’t have done earlier in your career,” he added. “Without question you are very individual in your thinking as a younger player.

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“As an older player you start to take things on and help other people but you take what people are going through, their emotions, how they’re feeling, what’s going on in their life and you want to be a part of that.

“I enjoy seeing Rory Holden coming into his own and showing what he’s all about and I enjoy seeing Elijah (Adebayo) looking like a player that we all thought he could have done throughout the season.

“I enjoy seeing Josh Gordon who started in a way that he was finding it tough and then in the second half of the season he’s been fantastic and looks a threat every time he plays, I enjoy seeing those things.

“When you’re a little bit younger all you care about is how you’re playing and what’s going on in your head so they’re definitely the things you enjoy when you become a more experienced player.”

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Meanwhile, manager Darrell Clarke has praised his experienced players for 'leading by example'.

"I let my players speak about the environment here but it's exceptional," he said.

"We have good characters and good lads in there - good experienced boys that are leading by example.

"I don't think there will be too many people that will disagree with me that the environment needed to change with one or two personnel that were maybe negative influences last season.

"We certainly haven't had that this year, the group has been very much together and well knitted.

"The lads and the experienced boys have done exactly what I've asked, but they're still being pushed by my staff.

"Even my experienced boys can be better players and we're working on improving their game - you're never too old to learn."

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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