Jim Ervin still in love with the game like fellow thirty-something Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s longevity has been hailed by all in the footballing world as the Portuguese forward continues to produce to his high standards despite heading towards the twilight of his impressive career.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 5:20 pm

The fact that Ronaldo continues to perform to such a high level at 36-years-old proves the importance of looking after yourself and playing with a smile on your face.

Playing at the top level late on in your career is not a new phenomenon in the Irish League.

In recent years the likes of Noel Baillie, Glenn Ferguson, Winkie Murphy and Steven Douglas all played into their late thirties and beyond.

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Jim Ervin has played a key role in Carrick Rangers' success so far this season

Now there’s another former Linfield man who is heading in the same direction.

Jim Ervin has experienced it all in his 17-year career in the Irish League.

From winning every honour in the game to battling back from two cruciate ligament injuries.

It’s a mark of the man that despite being in his 36th year he still has the hunger and desire to keep going and achieve even more.

A summer move to Carrick Rangers brought to an end his seven-year spell at Ballymena United and saw him link up with former Blues teammate Stuart King.

But this was no old pals’ act with Ervin coming to wind down his career, on the contrary the experienced defender was coming to Carrick to make a difference after being impressed with King’s vision for the club.

“I go a long way back with Stuartie (King) and have had a lengthy conversation with him,” said Ervin.

“Having listened to him, he and Scotty (Irvine) have a project here that they are excited to work on and in terms of where I am at in my career.

“I thought it was an opportunity that I could not turn down.”

And so far it looks like a match made in heaven as Ervin has helped his new club make an impressive start to the season.

The defender is playing with a smile on his face and is adamant he will keep going as long as that continues.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Ervin.

“Yes it’s different, but I’ve been around long enough now to know what way football goes.

“I’m very close to Stuartie and I know what way he wants to work.

“I’ve bought into everything he wants to do, as long as that happens and I continue to enjoy it I’ll keep going.

“So far, so good...I’m definitely enjoying it.”

Having worked under one of the game’s most successful managers in David Jeffrey for such a large chunk of his career, Ervin is now enjoying the experience of working with a young manager cutting his teeth at the highest level.

“Every manager is different and they’re going to have different things that they want to do and how they want to work,” he said.

“Stuartie has been brilliant. He’s had to bide his time to get his opportunity.

“He deserves it. For as long as I’m here I will give him absolutely everything I’ve got.

“I enjoy working with him.

“Stuartie has demanded we play a certain way and do certain things.

“So for as long as we knock our pans in and get in people’s faces there will be more pluses than there will be negatives.”

King is the latest young manager to get the opportunity to manage in the Danske Bank Premiership and Ervin highlighted the importance of up-and-coming coaches getting their chance at the top level.

“You need young managers getting their opportunities,” he said.

“There comes a time when there’s a changeover of managers.

“We are seeing a lot of younger managers coming about and new and fresh faces coming into the league...it’s brilliant to see, that’s what you want.”

And having Ervin on the pitch is a massive boost for King - not that anyone needed to tell him that.

“Jim is someone I know very well, and I know his leadership qualities are something every club needs,” said King.

“He sets high standards and expects the same from his team-mates.

“He is a leader, a winner, and an experienced individual who I know still has a hunger to do well.”