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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 10:56 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


Christmas is coming, but professional footballers won't be getting fat.

I don't suppose I have had what you would call a proper Christmas for several years - but don't think I'm looking for sympathy.

Far from it.

As professional footballers, we don't let Christmas pass us by and we enjoy as much as we can given the circumstances.

A Boxing Day fixture means Christmas Day is like the normal Friday session we have before a Saturday match day

The Southampton players held our Christmas do on Monday evening, but it was far from the rioutous occasion that a lot of office parties turn into!

We went for a quiet meal in a restaurant in London, with a couple of glasses of wine each.

By and large, players tend to behave themselves these days because we know how much there is at stake.

The rewards in the Premiership are so high that not over-indulging at Christmas and missing out on some things is hardly a major sacrifice.

James Beattie claims the match ball after his hat-trick against Fulham
No, I haven't eaten too much Christmas pud!

You accept that as a small price to pay.

Plenty of other people work at Christmas, and footballers are no different.

We play at Chelsea on Boxing Day this year, so in the run-up our preparation won't be any different.

On Monday 23 December and Christmas Eve we will be training as normal.

A Boxing Day fixture means Christmas Day is like the normal Friday session we have before a Saturday match day.

A fairly stiff session, followed by drills and possibly a practice match.

I'll go home for a spot of Christmas lunch, and yes, it will be turkey and all the trimmings.

I can imagine it can be a bit tough for the lads with young kids

Our diets are fairly closely monitored by a nutritionist during the course of a season.

We have to make note of everything we eat during a day and he will tell us whether we need to increase our carbohyrates, or cut down on other things.

We tend to eat wholegrain rice and wholemeal bread, which is better for you regardless of whether you're a professional sportsman or not.

Nothing is 'banned' as such. You can eat what you like, but like all things, it has to be balanced and in moderation.

A football fan dressed as Santa Claus
Even Santa is a football fan

My parents will be with us for Christmas, so lunch will be a fairly festive affair, but club rules stop us having alcohol 24 hours before a match.

After lunch, I'll set off to meet up with the team as we will travel up to London on the evening of Christmas Day.

That doesn't particularly bother me, but I can imagine it can be a bit tough for the lads with young children.

Travelling on Christmas Day also makes you realise that plenty of other people have to work on that day, our coach driver, the hotel staff, so we don't moan about our lot.

Anyway, whatever you're doing over the holiday period, I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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