David Healy: Quiet Xmas, not a chance!
Published 22/12/2006 | 13:06
Christmas morning - open the presents, stuff your face in the afternoon and then go for a snooze.
That's the way it's always been on Christmas Day but professional footballers don't get it all their own way.
While I would love to be stuffed to the gills and having a snooze, me and the rest of the boys will be in training on Christmas night at 6pm.
Trust me, it's not the most pleasant of things to do on Christmas Day but if we want to be in the best shape possible it has to be done and there's no point whinging about it.
My Christmas Day begins like anyone else's, getting up at the crack of dawn and watching the kids open their presents.
But that's where the normality of the day ends.
While everyone else is looking forward to their turkey dinner I will already be thinking about what I shouldn't be eating in the afternoon.
It's almost guilt. I would love to stuff myself the way I used to when I was a kid but those days have gone and every time you take one spud, you do worry if it was one too many.
If you did take too much food it could all go horribly wrong in training later on that day so I have to be sensible.
It sounds foolish to say that but sometimes we really do have to be careful, it's just a shame that Christmas Day is the day before one of the biggest football days of the season.
With any luck however it'll prove to be a great Christmas as we are involved in a huge battle at the wrong end of the Championship table.
I'm sure all the boys will have a bit of fun on Christmas Day with their families and they'll probably be a lot of banter before training but that's when the serious stuff begins.
When we get to the training ground, Christmas Day doesn't exist anymore we are there to do a job.
We have a massive match against Roy Keane's Sunderland on Boxing Day and both sides will be desperate to win for different reasons.
I remember a couple of years ago we played Sunderland on Boxing Day and beat them so hopefully that will be a good omen going into this game.
Christmas Day is usually all about the family but my wife understands it's completely different in the football world and if we want to do ourselves any sort of justice we have to make that slight sacrifice for a few years while I'm lucky enough to be playing.
It won't be all doom and gloom however, I'm sure the rest of the lads with families will still enjoy their Christmas morning like families up and down the country.
Okay, I have to watch what I eat but nothing would compare to watching the children rip apart the wrapping paper to see what Santa has brought them.
If we had to train in the morning, that would be a huge sacrifice and thankfully at Leeds the club understand that.
It'll be a tough Christmas for us and we have to get off to the perfect start or our fans will soon let us know about it.
It is a fantastic traditional day for sport and if we could defeat Sunderland it will hopefully give them a belated Christmas present. The potential at Leeds United is huge, there's never been any doubting that but now the players have to prove they are up to the task.
That small sacrifice on Christmas Day might well be a pain but if it means Leeds United avoid relegation and climb the table then it's going to be worth it.
Besides, I'll have plenty of time to eat whatever I want when my career is over - let's just hope that's no time soon.
Fired up Blues can't afford to lose
Boxing Day is always a massive day for sport and it doesn't come any bigger in Northern Ireland than Linfield v Glentoran.
As a kid it was a game I always looked forward to and I'm sure the fans of both clubs will be exactly the same this year.
Last year the Blues were unstoppable but they haven't had it all their own way this time around.
Losing against Lisburn Distillery in the County Antrim Shield semi-final on Tuesday night will have hurt the Blues and they will be gunning to make someone pay.
I noticed Glenn Ferguson wasn't playing due to a head injury and I firmly believe that had a lot to do with the 2-1 defeat. I've known Spike for a long time and saw his qualities up close when he was in the Northern Ireland squad for a couple of years.
His goals to games ratio is incredible and there are not too many players who could be so dominant at his age (sorry mate) but he continues to be a tremendous presence.
I would always want him on my side because he's a great motivator when things aren't going too well and that's vital in the big games.
I'm sure the Blues players think the same and the other side always get a little psychological advantage when he's not about. But coming off the back of such a bad result against the Whites I think it's just what the Blues need.
They can't afford to lose and the players and fans will be fired up.
I've been to a few Big Two derbies in my time and the atmosphere is something else.
The Glens are playing very well by all accounts and they lead the pack at the minute but I'm sure their manager Paul Millar would bite your arm off for a point at Windsor Park if you asked him privately.
They are certainly good enough to win, especially with Gary Hamilton banging the goals in for fun but I can't see it happening this time.
Here's to a Linfield Boxing Day victory and reeling the Glens in a little bit.
Merry Christmas to all The Belfast Telegraph readers. Have a great one.
Hopefully, a happier New Year lies ahead
This has been the most difficult season of my career.
Things have been going extremely well with Northern Ireland and of course that hat-trick against Spain was something that will live with me for the rest of my life but at club level it has been a disaster.
Leeds United are a side who should be fighting for promotion to the Premiership, not fighting for our lives at the wrong end of the Championship table.
The last three or four months have been particularly difficult for me as I haven't been playing as much as I had been.
As a striker you want to score as many goals as possible and that only comes with confidence.
Sometimes it's really difficult for the goals to flow when you aren't playing every week and that has been the situation I found myself in the last few months.
It's up to the gaffer to pick the team and formation he thinks will do the job but I just wish I could play in my favourite position every week.
The Christmas period is going to be massive for Leeds and it all starts tomorrow against Hull City.
At the moment we're stuck on 20 points and if we only get to 40 points by the end of the campaign there's no way we will stay up. We have to improve, it's as simple as that. We'll need at least another 30 points to give ourselves any chance but it's not going to be easy.
But we have the players at Leeds to get ourselves out of this situation and I have no doubt that is exactly what we will do.
We certainly have the experience and I'm sure a lot of other Championship clubs are envious of the squad we have.
Now it is up to us to show we have the bottle for a fight.
Leeds United is a massive football club and the fans deserve success.