Phil Jagielka’s drive and determination to continue his playing career for as long as possible is clear to see.
The 39-year-old, who is closing in on 700 appearances in club football, joined Derby County on a short-term deal in mid-August as a free agent.
A decorated player with a huge amount of experience on and off the pitch, Jagielka is a former team-mate of Derby boss Wayne Rooney from their time together for club and country.
The former Sheffield United and Everton central defender has made three first-team appearances since putting pen-to-paper at Pride Park Stadium and his impact has been immediate with only one goal conceded during that time.
Back-to-back clean sheets were recorded in his opening two matches, as Derby picked up four points from a 1-0 win at Hull City and a 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough a few days later.
Jagielka, capped 40 times by England during his career, began his playing days at the end of the 1999/2000 season.
When breaking through at Sheffield United, and in his early years at Everton, Jagielka played alongside several senior professionals that have made contributions on his footballing journey to date.
It’s those individuals, as well as those close to him and his own motivation, that have fuelled his ambition to continue to play at the highest level for as long as possible.
“It’s not an easy answer to that,” Jagielka said when asked why he is prepared to continue his career into his late 30s.
“When I started playing football, I played with a lot of older professionals that Neil Warnock brought to Sheffield United and they were great examples.
“I played alongside Sylvain Distin when I was in my mid to late 20s at Everton and there were role models around me.
“It’s conversations you have with these people that continue to play at a high level for a long time that play a part.
“The amount of people that told me to continue playing whilst I can said to me that I would miss it.
“Most, if not every single professional I played alongside, said that so it’s a case of as long as I don’t feel like I’m letting myself, and my team-mates, down.
“I do respect the advice and vision from my close friends and family. They would hopefully tell me it’s time to hang the boots up when the time comes but as it stands, I still feel I can get out on the pitch and I’ll be useful.”
Jagielka now holds the record for being Derby’s oldest-ever outfield player, a record previously held by former England international team-mate Ashley Cole during his time with the club in the 2018/19 season.