THE 2022 Fifa World Cup has kicked off, and it’s been reported the England squad has packed huge quantities of protein-rich baked beans and Jaffa Cakes as sweet treats to help them feel more at home in Qatar.
Beyond tonnes of kimchi, footballers have private chefs, personal trainers and nutritionists to keep them in tip-top condition, but don’t let that put you off picking up tips from the pros.
While we can’t guarantee you a World Cup debut as spectacular as Jude Bellingham’s, try these tricks for a serious health boost . . .
In his documentary Haaland: The Big Decision, he said: “People say meat is bad for you, but which? The meat you get at McDonald’s? Or the local cow eating grass right over there? I eat the heart and the liver.”
Which might explain why his fitness is so good, with both giving the cardio-vascular system a shot of health.
“The nutrients contained in the heart support the function of the heart as well as the entire cardiovascular system.”
HOLE IN ONE: Get into the swing with a spot of golf.
The Spurs star told Life Beyond Sport magazine: “It gets me away from football for a while and clears my mind.”
It can do wonders for your body too.
Jess said: “Golf can help you stay fit, while improving muscle tone and increasing endurance. It can also help you control body weight and reduce fat.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE: Footballers are all about marginal gains and right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has worked on his peripheral vision and depth perception using visual training and augmented reality with Red Bull.
Basically, it means using hi-tech computer games to boost reaction times, memory and alertness – which is a great excuse for playing more virtual tennis on your Wii or racing round a track on your XBox.
CHECK MATE: Alexander-Arnold also plays chess, which he says gives him an edge on the pitch.
He told inews: “It’s similar to football, all about strategy and tactics and different ways of playing. I can see similarities in both games and use each game in the other as well.
“I try to use tactics from football on the chessboard.”
Your brain can particularly benefit from a tense game of chess.
Jess said: “Chess has been shown to enhance problem-solving skills and teach the value of patience. It can also help you cope better with stress and exercise the brain, heightening learning ability.”
SEA IT THROUGH: Believe it or not, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo are both fans of seaweed, which is high in protein – vital to rebuild muscles after exercise – and also mineral-rich, which can help support libido and sexual function.
Jess said: “Seaweed is a great source of vitamins and minerals and contains a variety of protective antioxidants.
“It is also high in iodine, which helps with thyroid hormones to regulate metabolism.”
A regulated metabolism can help you stick to a healthy weight too.
NAP TIME: You’d think footballers were training constantly, but according to defender Eric Dier, it’s the downtime that makes all the difference – especially naps.
He told telegraph.co.uk: “I love a nap, every day. I get eight or nine hours sleep at night and nap for 45 minutes in the afternoon, straight after training. It makes me feel better for the rest of the day.”
You might feel a bit groggy waking up from a quick kip, but Jess confirms the odd power nap can give you a lift.
She said: “Taking a nap has been shown to improve alertness and performance while boosting memory.”
In fact, Rice has said he prefers them to specialised cryotherapy chambers, which is good news for us, as a bath filled with a few bags of ice is much cheaper to recreate.
Rice told GQ: “I feel fresher after an ice bath so I usually choose that.”
And science backs up the deep freeze.
Jess said: “Ice baths ease aching muscles, help stimulate your central nervous system and limit the body’s inflammatory response (which can reduce pain, swelling and support injury recovery).”
GO FISH: Footballers need to make time for recovery too, and midfielder Phil Foden likes to spend his time away from the pitch fishing.
He told mancity.com: “I think it’s the perfect hobby to rest your legs and have some down time.”
Jess agrees. She said: “Fishing helps to combat stress and anxiety and improves concentration and patience.”
DINNER TIME: Think loading up on chicken and pasta is the way to go before tackling that 5k? Think again.
Rice told GQ mag he felt “really heavy and stodgy” after a plate of just that, so he spoke to his nutritionist and switched to a lighter option.
He said: “On game day, whether we’ve got a 12pm kick-off or an 8pm kick-off, I eat about four hours before, and I always have sea bass and rice. Always.”
Sea bass is a good call on the protein front, says Jess: “Protein, such as sea bass, is essential for growth and repair of body tissues, and adequate consumption will help you build strong and healthy muscles and bones.
“If you’re looking for a quick way to include protein in your diet, I would recommend a high protein, low sugar snack such as Warrior Crunch protein bars.”
Five more footie diet tricks
SWEET STUFF: Man Utd legend Paul Scholes allegedly ate Turkish Delight the night before a game and beans on toast – although not together.
EGGS GALORE: Italian goalie Dino Zoff was told he was too small as a child, so he ate eight eggs a day to help him grow.
LICK IT: Japanese player Masahiko Inoha was known for eating three ice creams every day.
CAFFEINE HIGH: England player Glen Johnson revealed that footballers often popped caffeine tablets before games and sleeping tablets afterwards.
CHEESED OFF: During Euro 2016, pizzas were banned in the Italy team camp unless they were made using fibre-rich Khorasan wheat.