He may have been one of Bayer Leverkusen’s greatest ever goalscorers but Stefan Kiessling never really looked like your archetypal modern day footballer.
Lithe, gangly and a tad on the slow side, the recently-retired striker had the air of an unconvincing Donald Sutherland lookalike, not that it prevented him from rattling away 162 goals for Die Werkself over the years – the second highest tally in the German club’s history behind Ulf Kirsten.
What we’re getting at here is that Kiessling wasn’t really what you might call an elite physical specimen, an inescapable fact bore out by his recent admissions made in an interview with Sport Bild.
Having called time on his career at the end of last season, the 34-year-old is now free to talk about all the wily ways in which he used to circumvent the pre-season conditioning grind.
Indeed, Kiessling revealed that he happily used to allow his wife Norina to bear most of the stress on his behalf.
I never did 100% of the exercises in the preparation periods, not once.
You get a heart rate monitor (given to you) on which all runs are saved.
As my wife is very athletic, she did some racing with the wristband according to my specs.
She did it so well that nobody noticed,
Crafty, very crafty. Why work hard when you can work smart?
Reminiscent of the old Ian Marshall anecdote, in which the burly ex-Bolton forward admitted that, perturbed by manager Sam Allardyce’s insistence that he use a heart rate monitor, decided to pad his training telemetry by strapping the contraption to his dog before letting her run around the local park.
For the record, the ruse only lasted a fortnight before being rumbled, but that’s still two weeks’ worth of running that Marshall successfully wriggled out of.
That’s definitely a decent result in Pies’ book.