Capital One Cup Final: Manchester City v Sunderland - Is teetotal James Milner boring or a model professional?

 

Almost directly above James Milner’s head are two bottles of champagne, and someone asks him that if Manchester City win the League Cup whether just for a moment he might be tempted to let alcohol pass his lips.

“I think if there was any time I would have done it, it would have been after we won the league against QPR,” he said with a smile. “It was a decision I made when I was young. I just thought that if there is something that can be done to improve myself – like diet, not drinking, a bit of extra gym work – then I’ll do it. It’s a short career and, when I look back on it, I want to have won everything I possibly could.”

Milner is the subject of a parody Twitter account called Boring James Milner which is based on the premise that the midfielder lives in a beige, suburban world – sample tweet: “I just got the tin opener out of the drawer to open a tin of beans but the tin had a ring-pull on it. I didn’t need the tin opener after all.” It has 195,000 followers which places it somewhere between Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg’s Twitter accounts.

Were he born in Lisbon or Las Palmas rather than Leeds, the talk would be of Milner’s supreme professionalism. When Liverpool returned from Istanbul after their jaw-dropping Champions League triumph against Milan, bottles of champagne were passed around the plane. When Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso were given a glass, each reacted as if they had been handed a urine sample to taste. Across the aisle, strapped into one of the seats in the absurdly small Boeing 737 the club had chartered, was the European Cup.

Milner, 28, who is rather better company than certain other footballers we could mention, has been learning Spanish, not because he sees himself in Madrid but because it is increasingly the language of the club.

Monday was spent at Royal Birkdale, playing golf with Adam Johnson. They drew one apiece. Milner was also discussing this afternoon’s League Cup final against Johnson’s Sunderland, which should be the most one-sided Wembley final since the last time Manchester City played there, on the romantic, rain-soaked afternoon that Wigan upset every prediction.

“You cannot take anything away from Wigan,” said Milner. “They played very well; we got it wrong tactically and didn’t perform. It still hurts because these chances of winning medals don’t come around often. You think of the hours you put in during training throughout your life and you think that if you win this one, it’s a trophy; it’s there forever”

Midfielder Milner, though a regular in the England squad, may not start against Sunderland and were he back at a Newcastle or an Aston Villa – big clubs but not ones about to write cheques for £30m – his position would be central, guaranteed. He would be an obvious captain.

“That’s the big question isn’t it?” pondered Milner. “Are you better off at Manchester City not quite playing every week but still in four trophies, playing in Champions League nights and challenging for the title every year? Or do you go to a team who are not as big but where you are the star man?

“But when you look back at your career do you want to say: ‘I played 750 games and didn’t win very much’ or ‘I played 600 games and won this and that?”

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need