Hartlepool United’s Humphreys: Di Canio has helped prolong my career

Ritchie Humphreys.

Ritchie Humphreys.

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RITCHIE Humphreys intends to carry on playing into next season and beyond – and he has attributed part of his longevity to new Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio.

The Pools midfielder was 19-years-old when the Italian signed for Sheffield Wednesday in a £4.2m switch from Celtic.

Now 35, Humphreys, pictured right, has missed just two matches since the arrival of manager John Hughes in November and has arguably been Pools’ top outfield performer during that period.

His contract at Victoria Park expires at the end of the season, but, new deal or not, he has no intention of calling time on his 17-year playing career.

And fitness fanatic Humphreys says he took on board a lot of what Di Canio did in terms of his approach to the game during their time together at Hillsborough.

“I saw a different side to professionalism through Paolo,” he admits.

“I learnt a lot from the likes of him and the other foreign players.

“Their approach was different and they brought a lot to the game.

“I have always looked after myself and put a lot of emphasis on the right preparation, which is what they did as well.

“For a young lad it was a big help to be around players such as Paolo.”

And, when pressed on his plans for next season, Humphreys came back: “I want to carry on and my desire is to keep playing.

“I’m fit enough and I’m enjoying it, that’s a massive thing.

“As long as someone isn’t telling me otherwise then I want to play.”

Meanwhile, Humphreys believes his former team-mate will prove a success with the relegation-threatened Black Cats.

“He did well at Swindon and I think he’ll make a difference at Sunderland,” said Pools’ club captain.

“He’s all about the football and he’s a winner.

“I really liked him.

“He was magnificent for us.

“He would do things in training where you’d just stand back and say ‘wow’.

“Other players could not do the sorts of things he could.

“Some of the goals he scored were absolutely brilliant.

“He’s a character and he’s never been shy of saying what he thinks.

“I’m not really surprised he’s gone into management and I wish him all the best.”