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5 May 2017

Veteran striker on passing 900 games, play-off glory and what's next in his career...

AFTER clocking up over 900 appearances in competitive football, and at the age of 41-and-three-quarters, some might be casting their eye towards retirement from the game.

Those people don't include Jamie Cureton, who is still going strong some 23 years after making his senior debut for Norwich City as a teenager.

The now veteran forward passed the latest remarkable milestone while representing Farnborough in Southern League Division One towards the end of April.

Naturally, he scored a hat-trick, notching his 306th, 307th and 308th career goal in a season which culminated in netting in the play-off final to help fire Boro to promotion.

"It doesn't matter what level it's at, winning is very special," Cureton exclusively told

"I've been in the game a long, long time and often there are more lows than there are highs. To win something, to gain promotion, was really special for the club and everyone involved.

"A lot of people have spoken to me this year, having dropped down to non-league, but it's still the same to me. It's still a pitch, still two goals, so a goal's a goal to me.

"Whatever level I'm at, whatever team I'm playing in, that's always been my job and I've always thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Every goal is special to me; even if I was playing on a park I'd probably still enjoy it just as much.

"I've got another year at St Albans now because I signed for 18 months when I joined them around December. Earlier this season I had a few offers to go places on loan, and Farnborough was one of them.

"It was fitting that, having started the season there, I could go back and help them get promoted."

Eager to carry on for as long as his body will allow in pursuit of a potential personal millenium, Cureton wants to hit the ground running once more when pre-season rolls around.

"I still want to keep playing, whoever it's for and whatever level it's at," he explained.

"I've always said I want to play as high as possible for as long as possible but an appearance is an appearance to me, whether it's in the Football League or otherwise. I'll just keep going until the body breaks down.

"I want to keep going until I'm not doing myself or my team justice. In non-league terms, you play a lot of games so if you play most of the season it could be 50 matches or more.

"Looking at it like that, if I was to do two seasons that would pretty much be it [1,000 appearances] so it's something that's in the background. I'll take next year first, hope things hold up and that I have a good season.

"From 35 onwards I've always taken it season-by-season and seen where I am physically, because mentally I'd want to play forever. That's not a problem, it's just literally a case of the body keeping up with the mind and thankfully for the moment it does."

Reflecting on how he's progressed from the fiery youngster who first burst onto the scene all those years ago, he added: "My aim back then was to play in the Premier League for as long as possible and play for England then retire at 35 with a lot of money!

"That would have been my aim at the time, 35 would have been about right. I would never have thought I'd have played 900 games across all levels of football, and more importantly still be enjoying it.

"I still have the same hunger, if not more, that I had when I was 19 making my debut with Norwich. Back then, you take everything for granted whereas now I appreciate every moment.

"Waking up and being able to walk around is quite a blessing at times! I really appreciate my whole career now, looking back at it, but also remember what I was like back then which annoys me a bit.

"I maybe wasted the early part of my career by being a bit cocky and not having the professionalism I have now. I'd probably give my younger self a bit of a ticking off if I could!"

This weekend sees Cureton return to Carrow Road once more, but in a media capacity rather than a playing one as he takes on the co-commentary mantle for BBC Radio Norfolk's coverage of City's Sky Bet Championship clash with Queens Park Rangers.

Having spent 18 months with Rangers between 2004 and 2005, the Bristol-born frontman is eager to take in two of his former sides facing off as the curtain comes down on yet another football season.

"I'm looking forward to the game so I'm hoping for a relaxed match with a good atmosphere, especially with there being a few send-offs for some players," he said.

"I'll be hopeful of Norwich putting on a good show, getting the win, then it's a case of rebuilding in the summer. Ollie [Ian Holloway] is a good friend of mine so hopefully I'll be able to catch up with him too. 

"I enjoy the media side of things and try to do it as much as possible, although playing limits me sometimes. I've done a few bits and bobs for BT Sport so I'll definitely try to do some more things like that.

"There's a few things I've got my eye on, but media is definitely one of them as it's something I really like getting involved in."

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