‘I hope to play a few hundred more before I’m done’: Jake Bidwell reveals his secrets as he prepares to make his 500th career appearance aged 29 in Coventry’s clash with Preston
- Jake Bidwell will make his 500th career appearance at age 29
- Bidwell started at Everton before moving on to Brentford, QPR and Swansea
- The Coventry midfielder says he has always looked after himself as best he can
Less than 40 miles separate Goodison Park from Deepdale, but Jake Bidwell decided to take the scenic route.
The Coventry man would mark the 500th competitive appearance of his career on Tuesday, away to Preston – three weeks short of his 30th birthday and more than 13 years after making his Everton debut at Goodison aged 16 in League play Europe against BATE Borisov.
The monopolizing nature of the Premier League’s big six means these stories can easily be lost, but it is a remarkable achievement, testament to exceptional levels of fitness, consistency and dedication, and should be celebrated accordingly.
Bidwell was effectively signed twice by Everton – initially as a goalkeeper and, after a break from Goodison’s academy, after being spotted playing off the pitch by a scout at a local game. He played under Harry Kane in the England age group and tried to avoid being knocked out in training by Ravel Morrison during his time with Queens Park Rangers.
Far more importantly, Bidwell played a significant part in Brentford’s rise and is now eyeing promotion to the top flight after three near misses in the play-offs. Coventry go into Tuesday’s clash five points short of a play-off place with 13 games to spare.
Jake Bidwell (left) will make his 500th competitive appearance when Coventry play Preston
“I’m hoping to play a couple hundred more before I’m done,” Bidwell told Sportsmail.
‘I never thought I would reach 500 so quickly.
“I always took care of myself in the best possible way. I eat well, I sleep well – we just had our first child and we’re lucky he sleeps well too. There’s always an element of luck to getting in shape, but you can minimize the risk.
‘What are the secrets? I tend to stay away from alcohol. Many people like to drink on time, but the game is getting faster and faster. You see players walking through gyms now and they are athletes. You have to give yourself the best chance of success.’
Bidwell could see the writing on the wall during his final months at Everton and realized he needed to change. He ‘didn’t even know where Brentford was’ when accepting a loan spell for the Bees, then in League One, in November 2011, but Bidwell would go on to become a mainstay in the side that road-trip to the Championship play-offs in 2015.
After a spell at QPR, Bidwell has suffered play-off headaches again with Swansea in 2020 and 2021. The target is to be lucky for a fourth time, but the approaching milestone also offers a chance for reflection.
Bidwell says he worked hard to take care of himself and give himself the best chance of success.
When he was at Everton, Bidwell had two loan spells at Brentford before a permanent move
“The young players who have come to the fore now have a better platform to express themselves than when I was coming on.” says Bidwell. ‘There is more focus on technique on the football side, whereas back then there was more emphasis on the physical aspect.
‘But you still need to stick to the old school values of hard work and commitment, otherwise you’ll fall by the wayside.
‘I could say I wouldn’t be kept at Everton. Leighton Baines was there at the time – a top-class left-back who barely missed a game. So I had to sink or swim. I went to Brentford to establish myself in the game and build a career. Luckily I did.
‘There are difficult sides to football that people don’t see. The birthdays, weddings, and funerals you miss because of the schedule.
Bidwell also stopped by Swansea and spoke about the struggles of being away from family
‘Then there is movement. My wife and I grew up in the North West, then moved to London and Swansea. Our son was born when we were in Swansea, and at a time when you want your family close by, ours was five hours away.
‘But it gives you an unbelievable life and overall I’ve been lucky with the changing rooms I’ve been in. When I was at Brentford we finished third in League One, then second, then fifth in the Championship – a special moment and we haven’t lost many games.
‘I haven’t made it to the Premier League yet, but there’s still time. I hope this is the season where we do that with Coventry.’