The Pirlo of non-league football – ex-Gateshead midfielder Steven Bowey discusses being the oldest player in the Northern League

At the age of 46, Steven Bowey played the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Newton Aycliffe, making him the oldest current player across the Northern League divisions.

Currently a player and coach for Whickham FC, the midfield veteran has had a long career that started 27 years ago.

He has featured for Scottish sides Queens of the South and Ayr United, as well as Gateshead FC, York City, Newcastle Benfield, Harrogate Town, Bedlington Terriers and Dunston UTS.

Bowey intends to prioritise coaching, but his performance against Newton Aycliffe could be proof that he shouldn’t hang up his boots just yet.

The midfielder revealed all about his secret to his longevity within football as well as what his future milestones are within the sport.

His long career in football is something that is rare nowadays, but Bowey claims that his motivation to play stems from his undying love for football.

He said: “To be honest with you, it’s for the love of the game, I think if you cut me open in half there’d be a football in there somewhere.”

Bowey continued: “It’s what I’ve always enjoyed and I’ve got such a massive passion for the game, since I can remember I’ve always had a football and luckily for me I’ve still got that excitement of going out on the pitch, putting my boots on and just competing really.”

However, the hard-tackling midfielder admits that embarrassment could be a reason to blow the whistle on his lengthy career.

He said: “As long as I don’t embarrass myself, because there is a lot of pressure on playing and I’m playing against lads 20, 30 years younger than myself and as long as I don’t start hearing things like ‘ah that old grandad’.”

The Whickham coach admits that he has people trying to write him off, with a famous comparison to another footballer who happened to prove everybody wrong.

He said: “I can remember Pirlo at the World Cup, everybody’s writing him off and he was the best player in the tournament but everybody’s out there to write you off and that’s something that drives me on”.

As well as football, Bowey also does flooring as another job whilst coaching three different teams at the same time.

Bowey then revealed his secret lifestyle as to how he has sustained his impressive levels of fitness to be able to juggle so many things.

He said: “I think as you get older you have to look after your body a bit more because when I was younger, when I was a pro I never really had to watch what I was eating because I’ve always been highly energetic, I’m still that now! The job I do keeps me active, keeps me on my toes.”

With such a long career, Bowey remains positive about what he’s achieved in football.

He said: “There’s not many players about who are still playing at my age so yeah I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far.”