By Tony Leighton
Mansfield Town's 32-year-old player-assistant manager Adam Murray is feeling his age after recently clocking up the 500th appearance of a 15-year playing career that has seen him play for 10 different clubs and several others on loan.
As the Stags head into the closing stages of their first season back in The Football League following five years in the Conference, Murray has returned to the first-team squad and played in last Saturday's 2-1 win against Newport County.
Reflecting on playing over 500 matches, the midfielder told football-league.co.uk: "I'd never thought about being old before. Because of my style of play I was thinking I was still young, but reaching a landmark like that makes you think.
"As I get older I need to play with my head more than my legs - get the younger players to do my running for me. As assistant manager it also allows me to talk to and coach the younger ones during the game in a way I couldn't on the sidelines."
Murray started his career at Derby County, making his debut in 1999 when the Rams were in the Premier League. A self-confessed drink problem affected his progress, however, and the rest of his career has been in the lower leagues.
"I had my personal problems early in my career and didn't play as long as I might have at a high level," he admitted, "but I use that as motivation now. I have my [coaching] A license and when I finish playing I want to continue in the game."
For the time being Murray is happy to continue putting on his boots and trying to help Mansfield re-establish themselves as a Football League club following last season's promotion and, to date, an inconsistent campaign in League 2.
Now in his third spell with the Stags, Murray said: "We started the season like an express train and did really well early on. We were on a high after promotion, but after a while people started to work out our game and it became harder.
"Now we are a few points above the relegation zone, but we need to put a mini run together to keep out of trouble. That's our game plan for the rest of the campaign, and we need to get past the 50-points mark as quickly as we can."
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