Linfield hero Andy Waterworth has revealed that David Healy is prolonging his career even though the striker and manager have their disagreements.
Waterworth is 34 but despite his advancing years he remains Linfield's main man up front and is expected to lead the line for the Blues in their Irish Premiership clash away to Portadown today.
In three league games to date this season, Waterworth has grabbed four goals, helping the champions to the top of the table. While he is a potent threat in the box, Healy has also encouraged the forward to drop deeper with the ex-Glentoran ace showing a different side to his game.
"I think the gaffer and I have a mutual respect. We disagree a lot on the pitch but get on very well off it," said Waterworth.
"He always gives me the time of day even when I think it's none of my business and this year he has improved my game.
"He played me a bit deeper in pre-season and he's shown me I can bring more to my game and it has helped me.
"Last year I was out of the team at the start of the season after scoring goals to help us win the league and I was cross but maybe that is what I need and he is the type of manager I need.
"We have a professional relationship and I think he has helped prolong my career. We train loads, have squad rotation and he knows who to play and when. He's brought the right character to the club."
Waterworth is in the final year of his contract at Linfield. Blues fans would love him to stay but just about every club in the Premiership would fancy signing him.
Waterworth makes no secret that going into coaching is also a possibility.
"I think the club is in a great place and I want to be a part of it but I don't think anyone can look too far ahead at the moment," stated the striker.
"During lockdown I was thinking and realised how much I love playing but then I like the flexibility of being in my last year and I feel in control.
"I've loved my time at Linfield and when I wasn't here because of lockdown I really missed the place, from (kitman) Gary Eccles to the players. Everyone is so professional.
"Who knows, maybe this is my last year and if it is my last year I want to enjoy it. I don't know what my body will be like at the end of the season or where my head will be at in terms of playing and coaching.
"I had some good offers in terms of coaching; I've done my Pro Licence and there were times I was pondering what my next move would be. I'm 34 and I'm in my last year but over lockdown I couldn't imagine myself not playing.
"I'll never huff but it hurts me when I don't play. At the minute I know I have a different approach and know I maybe took things for granted before.
"If this is my last year I want to enjoy it, if it's playing hopefully or helping in any way, even helping Gary with the kit. I want to do it here. I love coming in and seeing the likes of Gary and how obsessed he is with this club."
A much-changed Linfield lost 4-1 to Larne in the County Antrim Shield in midweek but you get the feeling Waterworth isn't reading too much into that in the battle for the title.
He said: "There will be times people will think the wheels have come off but we've been here before. Our aim is to win the league and the way to do that is to block it off in periods.
"The way the game is now, you have to manage your squad, you have to bring in players who are ready to play because you can't play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday."