Former Premier League defender Joleon Lescott spoke to us to explain a footballer’s traditional Christmas as well as sharing key insights into the mind of a top-flight player during the festive period.

“I’ve always enjoyed Christmas. As a retired player I can now properly enjoy it all with the family. But as a player, it was the norm. It was the norm for us all.

“Of course, we tweaked and changed it a few times but usually we got up with the family at the crack of dawn, then I’d go to training and come back and have Christmas dinner and then we’d have to report back to the hotel with the rest of the team in the evening.

“We’d always stay at a hotel that night just to get away from the chaos that comes with Christmas. Nowadays, I’m able to enjoy it in a totally different way. I’m able to relax and enjoy it all properly.”

Asked whether or not professional players have a sneaky Christmas dinner away from the team, Lescott is adamant it happens and can admit now he’d never negotiate on the traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings.

He said, “I used to have Christmas dinner. That was the one meal I wouldn’t sacrifice!

“I’d avoid all the usual recommended meals like pasta and have my Christmas dinner at lunch time, then go to the hotel in the evening and have my dessert. I’d have my crumble and custard in the hotel!”

This time of year always brings up the debate of whether or not the Premier League should have a winter break, but Joleon isn’t on board with the idea.

“I don’t think so – the players just want to play. If it means having a winter break and coming back and having a second season, then no way! I’d rather play the games than have to do two pre-seasons in one year.

“I think a tweak to the fixtures would be easier than a winter break,” he said. “If you changed Boxing Day (fixtures) to Christmas Eve then it would give everyone the chance to have Christmas Day off, then change New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve and it gives everyone the chance to have New Year’s off.

“You could still play all the fixtures and it would make a little bit more sense to me.”

Looking forward to the year ahead, Lescott also shared his 2021 predictions. He picked Liverpool to retain the Premier League, while backing his old side Manchester City for the FA Cup and League Cup.

For this season’s Champions League, he maintains whoever beats Bayern Munich will win the competition.

“As a club – the team, players, manager – they [Bayern Munich] have it all. I think at that stage of the competition, the experience really matters and if you’ve been there and done it before.”

Joleon believes that the Europa League could be going to Tottenham this season due to the Jose Mourinho factor.

He said, “I think with their manager (Mourinho), he has the capabilities and experience to set up and beat any team. That’s one thing about Mourinho – he’s willing to change what he does to beat the opponents, which counts in the Europa League because there’s so many styles of teams. I would like to see Spurs win it too.”

Former England defender Lescott has backed France to follow up their World Cup win with a victory in this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament.

“I’m going with France. I love Mbappe and think he’s the closest thing to the original R9 (Ronaldo). I don’t think you could handpick a better XI than what France have.”

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