Like father, like son: Doncaster Rovers stalwart Tommy Rowe on not 'letting the old man in'
He still counts every day in the profession he loves and simply cannot do without as a blessing.
The intensity of his daily work and sunny disposition is the same now in the winter of his playing career at Doncaster Rovers as it was when he was a fresh-faced teenager coming through at Stockport County in the mid-Noughties.
The cynicism that you can encounter with a senior, thirty-something old pro is refreshingly absent.
Rowe's thirst for knowledge is as strong as it was when he was an inquisitive lad coming through at Edgeley Park and he has never been one to luxuriate in what has gone before - including some past glories in his case.
His sole occupation is giving everything in the present and then seeing what tomorrow brings on his particular journey and love affair with the game.
He has had his challenges for sure. Right from the moment he was shown the door at 15 by boyhood club Manchester United for being too small before picking up the pieces down the road from where he lives at Stockport.
Rovers manager Grant McCann likened it to a ‘WWE tackle.’ In truth, it would take much more than Big Daddy or Giant Haystacks to keep Rowe away from football.
Rowe, who boasts over 600 appearances in professional football, said: "I am asked questions about how long my career is and it is never defined. It’s how I see it tomorrow.
"It would destroy me if someone said I came into training and didn’t care. That would be when I ended my career.
"Because I know until this point that I have done all I can do to put things right.
"Whatever success is to everyone else is probably not the same version that I see for myself.
"I have aspirations of being in football for the next forty or fifty years. So I can’t actually stop playing football as football has an ongoing appeal and will stay in my mind forever.
"I don’t even think about retirement at any point. I just keep going. I have got that clear in mind."
Rowe’s inspiration is personal and comes from his father, a ‘grafter’ like himself and a well-known figure in the South Manchester area where he was brought up.
There is gratitude for the way he ferried him around as a youngster to pursue his footballing dreams and lost jobs in the process.
In the here and now, there is also deep admiration for someone who does not want to 'let the old man in’. Like father, like son.
Rowe continued: “My dad lost three or four jobs when I was 14 or 15 trying to make it as a footballer, so I owe it to him and many people who have supported me over the years. They are my drive.
"I look at my dad who is always doing odd jobs and doesn’t want to let the old man in and I love that about him.
"My mates text me all the time about him being in the gym with medicine balls on his stomach. Crazy stuff. But that’s me in a weird way.
"I say to my son: ‘Have you heard what your grandad is doing?’ It’s brilliant for me and I know that every day I come into work, I want to give a really positive impact on whoever."
For Rowe, mentality is everything and he has learned a fair bit over the years from some successful managerial operators in the lower leagues such as Darren Ferguson, Jim Gannon, Lee Johnson and McCann.
Rowe is also big on self-improvement and psychology in football and has read books on the subject and listens to podcasts.
The Mancunian’s desire to push and continue to better himself on a daily basis has also been a big theme of his career.
Learning to play in different positions, being the best player in training, beating pre-season targets, breaking his own sprinting records in his thirties; there’s always something. Every day.
The greater the challenge, the more he seems to enjoy it.
It speaks of a driven professional, but also a proud one. In that regard, he’s also a chip off the old block.
He continued: “If ever I wanted any money (as a child), I had to earn it. It was getting out the old bucket and sponge.
"It was knowing what my father has been through in his life and the journey he has been through.
"Roofing a home and to get where he has now with three kids, the family fought really hard to get there and that same mentality is in me. I am proud of my family for that.
"I try that with my kids, but they don’t do that. They don’t clean the car!”