NO ONE player epitomised the ‘have boots will travel’ existence of a nomadic journeyman footballer better than former Doncaster Rovers and Hull City favourite Jason Price.
The 38-year-old’s professional career saw him clock up the miles at 15 ports of call from Swansea in the west and Hull in the east to Millwall in the south and Carlisle in the north.
Throw in non-league stops, including Prestatyn Town, Ossett Town, Guiseley, Brighouse Town and the delightfully-named Shaw Lane Aquaforce and it has been some journey.
Although he did not think he would ever play close to 6,000 miles from the shores of Britain in Thailand let alone represent England.
The Welshman jets out to south-east Asia later this month as part of the England squad, made up of a number of players from his club Harrogate Vets, for the Seniors World Cup.
It is the sort of jaunt that only an understanding ‘gaffer’ would let an employee take time off for and it is probably a good job that Price is his own boss.
Based in Huddersfield, Price, now a qualified plumber after hanging up his boots after 17 years in the professional game, has allocated space in his work diary for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
And he simply cannot wait.
Price, who will be one of two permitted players aged between 38 and 41 in the England squad, said: “I have played for Wales Under-21s and it will be a bit strange playing for England.
“But everybody who I spoke to has said that the World Cup is great, experience-wise, and that I need to do it. It is the sort of thing I will probably never do again and they say it is the best thing you will ever do in football terms.
“John Ryan (former Doncaster chairman) has sponsored me the full amount for the flight over, so I am grateful for that. England won it last time, but Germany and Italy were not in it and they are this year.”
While many professionals take the well-trodden path into coaching after ending their careers, Price, who also counts Bradford City among his former clubs, decreed otherwise.
Nicknamed the “Afro Goal Machine” in homage to his time at Doncaster where he was a big cult figure, Price made a clean break and elected to enter Civvy Street.
Not that he thinks he is incapable of still doing a job for someone in the professional game, even at the ripe old age of 38.
On his change of career, Price said: “I was at Donny and getting old and just thought before I went to Millwall about what job I could do (after) to make some money.
“I thought about plumbing, I don’t know why because I used to get scared drilling a hole into the wall to put a picture up and now I am putting boilers in. It’s funny how things change.
“I actually wanted to get away from 20 years of football, football, football really.
“I am a qualified plumber and have my gas exams next week and it is doing my head in and it’s really hard. I need to pass and have a think about what I want to do.
“I still enjoy playing and am at Harrogate Veterans now and I don’t play on Saturday anymore. I had been playing at Brighouse but I was sub all the time, so I couldn’t be bothered. I packed it in and one of my mates plays for Harrogate Vets and asked me to go down and play.
“I was scoring a few goals a game and still actually feel I could do a job in the Football League.
“I played in the (testimonial) game for James Coppinger recently and felt quite comfortable against some boys who were still in the Football League.”
Welsh by birth he may be, but Price is a bit of an adopted Yorkshireman these days, having rolled up at a number of non-league clubs in the county since finishing as a professional and combining work with playing at weekends.
All this came after heading back to Wales to play for Prestatyn, who he helped to win the Welsh Cup for the first time against Bangor City in May 2013.
Price said: “It was a weird one as I lived in Leeds and my mate played in Prestatyn and asked me to play.
“He said he would drive me in from Manchester if I signed and that was the verbal contract.
“As he was one of my best mates, I said, ‘Go on, then’. I didn’t train and just played and me and Andy Parkinson were up front and scoring a lot of goals.
“I then went to Ossett Town on trial and then Selby before joining Shaw Lane Aquaforce for a month until the manager got the sack and then I gave up.”
Price added: “But I then had a look on the internet to see if there were some half-decent teams around the area and I saw Brighouse and I messaged a guy on Twitter and said, ‘Can I play just to keep fit?’
“He said, ‘No problem’ and I knew one or two guys down there and they asked me if I wanted to play and I helped get them promoted last season (2013-14).
“But I didn’t start any games this season and I just thought, ‘Blow that’.”