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Ageless Blues brother provides case for the defence

FIT AS A FIDDLE: Distin

AS MUCH as Everton have been reliant on loan players this season, the form of their defence and their veteran leader at the back Sylvain Distin has been fundamental.

The 36-year-old centre-back, who is the oldest outfield Premier League regular, penned a one-year contract extension in January that keeps him at Goodison Park until 2015. It offers an assurance beyond this summer that currently eludes fellow veterans, such as Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand.

Though a run of just one goal in four matches stunted the Merseysiders’ push for a top-four finish their back line is currently the joint second-best in the division.
Distin has been superb as the elder statesman alongside Everton captain Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, and Seamus Coleman.

His ability to keep pace with younger opponents remains as does his capacity for reading and affecting the game under manager Roberto Martinez.

It is a testament to a player who eschews last-ditch tackles and heavy physical contact that he has picked up just two bookings in 27 outings for Everton this term.

Last month the Daily Mail asked Distin if his form and condition can be attributed to luck and he dismissed the notion.

“I started with good genes from my parents but I also made a big decision at 30 to work hard to keep what I’ve got,” he said.

“Every summer, I take two weeks off my holiday to go to a training camp where I work two sessions a day, just to be ready physically when I come back for Everton
pre-season training.

“During the season I go to the gym every day unless we are playing or it’s the day before a game.

“Is it luck? It is more about the work that I put in and I am getting the rewards for it now,” he added.

The Frenchman took pride in his ability to keep up with Everton’s 17-year-old academy players in pre-season training runs.

“Strikers now are bigger, stronger, faster. You can’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best against them,” he said.

Distin, whose father is from Guadeloupe, remains uncapped for France and an FA Cup winner’s medal from his time at Portsmouth is his only senior accolade. This is no reflection on his ability, just another reminder that football is a team game.

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