Jermain Defoe has credited a recent switch to a vegan diet as being partly behind his continued excellence at the top level.
Defoe made his first England appearance in three and a half years on Sunday.
Defoe has used ice chambers at his own expense and, since Sunderland purchased a cryotherapy unit, at his club. “The way the game has gone, the demands on the players are so high given the intensity of games but, with advances in sports science, if you do things right and look after yourself then you have a chance,” he said. “The key thing for me is recovery, giving yourself the best opportunity to perform in the next game, and I seem to have got that down to a T. There’s a lot of things I do away from training and away from match-day that help me perform, so I’ll just keep doing that.
“I have a better understanding of my body now. When I’m at the club I know what days I need to have a rest day. Everyone knows I do a lot of that cryotherapy stuff. It’s not enjoyable but it’s a matter of trying to do it like you’re loving it. Everyone wants to feel fresh in the game – there’s no better feeling – so I just make sure I’m doing the right things and trying to tick every box: cryotherapy, massage, eating the right things ... I’m trying to turn vegan. That’s a funny one because, when I go to my mum’s, she’s got every kind of meat you can imagine out on the table.
“I think I’ve managed [to adopt veganism] successfully. My girlfriend suggested I gave it a go. Well, she said to me: ‘You’ve got to do it’ and she’s always showing me documentaries on it. It’s always nice to have someone around you who helps you and drives you on and wants you to do well. I don’t find anything hard to give up, as such, because I know the feeling scoring goals gives me. So, while getting in an ice bath isn’t nice, I just think: ‘You know what? I’m going to do this and be rewarded.’ It’s hard but in another way it’s easy because all I want to do is play well and score goals.”