AT 6ft 3ins, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that Walsall goalkeeper Clayton Ince is the “Big Daddy” in the Saddlers’ dressing room.
At 37 and with more than 70 international caps for the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago, Ince has more experience as a professional footballer than the rest of manager Chris Hutchings’s young side combined.
“I think I’m a big father figure,” Ince said. “I’m the oldest one in the team and I still play internationally, so a lot of the guys look up to me. It’s a big responsibility for me to show I’m an example, but I enjoy it.”
The former Crewe Alexander keeper said: “Not everyone likes the responsibility but I do because it allows me to show the lads that it’s not all the things you would like to do – but the things you have to do that make things work.”
Ince is aware that as a role model he has to keep himself in shape and avoid late nights and parties, even though they are second nature in his native Caribbean.
“How you perform comes from how you treat yourself. You can’t have your Saturday night parties every weekend.”
Trinidad may be the home of steel drums and reggae nights but Ince has no time for them – at least while he is still playing.
“It’s part of the culture in Trinidad to party hard but when you move abroad to work, it’s a different environment,” he said.
Ince admits that lapses of concentration have cost Walsall dear and need to be worked on.
“This is a young team and lapses happen when you have young players, because they switch off easily.
“We senior guys have to tell the youngsters that in football you can’t switch off, even in the 95th minute, you have to concentrate for a whole 100 minutes.
“Last season in about 10 to 12 games we lost in the last minute or last five minutes. We could have had the points and been in the play-offs.
“With a young team it’s expected they are going to switch off, but we’re in the early part of the season.
“In the later part of the season they will be developing into great players.”