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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Boffin keeps on running
Danny Boffin
Boffin puts his longevity down to sleep, water bananas and luck

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Danny Boffin will turn 37 this summer, but he is not even thinking about a World Cup swansong.

Called into the training vcamp at La Panne this week, he is a near-certainty for Belgium coach Robert Waseige's final 23.

And the veteran midfielder reckons he is good for another three seasons.

Open Quote
I might be the oldest player, but that means nothing - I have the same ambition that I had when I was in my twenties
Close Quote
Danny Boffin

He was the star of the show as his home-town team St Truidense defeated Club Bruges 5-3, a result that gave Racing Genk the Belgian title.

He scored one of the goals and laid on the other four in a performance that revived memories of his glory days with Anderlecht.

Known as "Speedy" in Belgium and "Mobylette" in France, following his spell with FC Metz, Boffin provides cover for Bart Goor on the left and can also play in central midfield.

"I'm not here for fun, that's not my style," he told BBC Sport Online from the Belgium training camp.

"I might be the oldest player, but that means nothing. I have the same ambition that I had when I was in my twenties."

Boffin brings a refreshing honesty to the football business. He joined Metz from Anderlecht and then, after four seasons, decided to move back to Belgium.

After discussing a move with St Truidense - the Canaries - the unfashionable club put together a deal with new sponsors so that they could afford Boffin. The player takes up the story:

Danny Boffin
Boffin reckons he is good for another three seasons

"I had agreed to join St Truidense and then my agent told me that Marseille, Ghent and Standard Liege were all showing interest. But I couldn't break my word.

"Maybe it's sometimes worked against me but I was always taught that, if I was honest, I would go further in the game."

Boffin is famous for his non-stop performances. So if he's planning to play until he is almost 40, what is his secret?

"Ever since I was 20, I've slept for about two hours after training. I drink two to three litres of water a day and I eat five or six bananas, for my muscles.

"I don't smoke and I don't drink. I don't like champagne or wine. Maybe I'll have a beer with the family or with players but that's about it."

Then Boffin paused. "On reflection, though, the real secret is lots of luck."

He has played 48 times for Belgium. Surprisingly, he's only scored one goal - against Colombia in 1997.

His father and uncle were professional footballers and, if selected, this will be Boffin's third World Cup, after trips to the USA and France.

Asked to discuss key players, Boffin prefers to talk about the team. "We don't have superstars, there's no Beckham or Owen. We all need each other," he said.

Open Quote
I prefer us to be underdogs, like we were against the Czech Republic - if we're favourites, we always lose
Close Quote
Danny Boffin

"If I have to pick out one individual for us, it would be Emile Mpenza. He's fast and he has a good eye for goal."

As for Belgium's hopes in Korea and Japan, Boffin is unhappy when people say they are in an easy group.

"I prefer us to be underdogs, like we were against the Czech Republic," he said. "We were the better team over the two games. If we're favourites, we always lose.

"Russia are the favourites for me. We're perhaps second favourites but Japan recently beat Poland and they have four or five players who are with European clubs. They are much more experienced now."

Situated behind Boffin is a table shared by Gert Verheyen, Bart Goor, Sven Vermant and Philippe Clement. There is a lot of noise. The squad players are obviously happy under Waseige's care.

"The ambience is great," Boffin confirms. "It feels good when we get together. It's like being at a club. We all work for each other."

It might not be enough come 4 June in Saitama, but if team spirit alone was a guarantee of success, this Belgium squad could go far.

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