James Milner claims he never stops learning as a football player and that even at the age of 33, he still sees every day as a chance to make improvements to his game.
The veteran midfielder has proved one of Liverpool’s most astute signings in recent years, the free transfer arrival in 2015 still a vital member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad and proving his cool in their last game when he tucked home an injury-time penalty to maintain the 100% start to the season with a 2-1 win against Leicester.
With just a matter of months left on Milner’s Anfield deal talks are underway over an extension to the player’s contract, and there’s no signs of letting up for Milner, who – having made his debut as a teenager with Leeds – now has 523 appearances under his belt during an illustrious career.
And now the midfielder has lifted the lid on how and why he manages to maintain his high level of performance, despite his advancing years.
“I think I’ve been fortunate enough to be playing a long time and played with some great players and under some great managers, but every single day you go out on that field you can learn something,” Milner told the club’s official website.
“Maybe my role’s a bit more about helping the younger guys now as well. But I can learn from my teammates, I can learn from the manager.
“You’ve always got to try to improve as much as you can, so I’ll go into every training session, every day, with that mindset that you never know anything.
“I’m sure the manager’s learned things and he’s been in football a lot longer than me. I think if you’ve got the mindset where you think that you know everything, you’re going to be struggling.”
Klopp’s love and appreciation of the player is there for all to see, with the German calling Milner a “role model” and “on fire” as recently as a few weeks ago.
But it’s clear that respect is a two-way street with Milner also waxing lyrical about his manager.
“The biggest thing with the manager is that what you see is what you get,” said Milner. “He doesn’t have one front for the cameras and then he’s completely different with the players.
“He’s honest with the players and he lives every minute of it. He’s on the side and he’s bouncing around, he wants to be out there. That energy’s big for us when we’re down.
“He seems to judge it right, when to put an arm round the shoulder after a game. If we haven’t played well or something, he knows what to say at half-time, or if you need a rocket he’ll give you that as well. He seems to judge those situations very well.”