Joao Moutinho is so loving life in Wolves’ midfield that he says he feels like he can play like he can play for another 10 years.
The 32-year-old Portugal international has been a hugely impressive performer since his £5m move from Monaco last summer, arguably the most talented midfielder in gold and black in a generation.
And he wants to carry on for another decade, if his legs will allow him.
“I feel very good now. I have fresh legs. I tell people who ask me if I’m old that I’m 32 but I feel I can play 10 more years,” said Moutinho, who recently won his 114th cap.
“Who knows, 10 years? Maybe you can’t say that. But I love the game so much.
“It’s what I always dreamed of doing. I can’t give any more; I give my best and do everything I can to play.”
After years in the doldrums, Wolves are on a steep resurgence, currently in seventh place in the Premier League and in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Moutinho believes being in such a positive environment has helped him maintain his standards.
“It’s good for me to be at an ambitious club which wants to win, that keeps you motivated,” he told the Daily Mirror.
“When I’m younger, maybe I don’t do the things I do now. The way I eat now isn’t the way I ate 10 years ago.
“Now I eat more vegetables as it’s important not to only eat hamburgers and these kind of things.
“I look after myself now. Maybe it’s worked for me because I feel stronger.”
Wolves return to Premier League action this Saturday with a trip to Burnley.
Then they face Manchester United at home again on Tuesday, just 17 days after knocking them out of the FA Cup.
Wolves have regularly bloodied the noses of the top six this season. Moutinho scored at Old Trafford as Wolves were good value in holding United to a 1-1 draw, while they have also drawn at Arsenal and Chelsea and at home against Manchester City, beaten Tottenham away and Chelsea at home and knocked Liverpool out of the Cup.
So what’s the secret? “We have skilful players, players who like to get on the ball and control the ball,” said Moutinho.
“Maybe you have more space against the bigger teams and maybe we can impose our style a bit more on the match.
“We’ve done well against the big teams and yet we’ve had some bad results against teams lower in the table.
“That’s not us believing the games are easy – it’s very difficult in England, every game is so hard in the Premier League.”
For Moutinho, his move to Wolves was third time lucky to earn a move to England after transfers to Everton and Tottenham, in August 2012, fell through in the past.
“It’s been close before but it was my mission to play in the Premier League,” he revealed.
“I’ve had one or two opportunities in the past. The first was Everton, the second Spurs.
“I was in the room but the next day I had a game in Portugal, it didn’t happen, it was one minute from happening. I had actually signed but it was one minute past the deadline.
“You carry on, you continue to do what you like and what I like to do is to play football.
Former Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed Tottenham were ‘minutes’ from signing Moutinho.
The Portugal international was coached by Villas-Boas at Porto and in August 2012 nearly joined the North London club.
During a question and answer session, the 41-year-old was asked who he came closest to signing during his stint as manager.
He answered: “I think it has to be Joao Moutinho, of course. We were so close to signing him. I think we only missed him by a few minutes.
“We were exchanging information with Porto down to the last minute of the transfer window on August 31 and in the end we missed a great player, which is a pity of course.”
Moutinho stayed at Porto and in 2013 joined Monaco in a combined deal with James Rodriguez.
He stayed with the Ligue 1 club until 2018 when he signed for Wolves.