A LANDMARK 1,000 club appearances yet retirement is the last thing on Colchester United legend Jamie Cureton’s mind, writes NEAL HARRINGTON.

Cureton may be 43 but the sprightly striker is eager to carry on playing long after he hits the 1,000-game mark.

He reaches four figures when turning out for Bishop’s Stortford in their Bostik League premier division home match against Brightlingsea Regent, on Easter Monday.

Cureton will forever have a place in U’s fans’ hearts after landing the Championship leading scorer accolade with 23 goals as Colchester celebrated their best-ever season in 2006-07 when finishing tenth in the second flight.

Since making his Premier League debut with Norwich in 1994, Cureton has notched up 999 appearances and scored an impressive 359 goals along the way.

His value remains undiminished and as recently as April 13, the Stortford joint manager bagged a brace in a 3-0 home win over Worthing to become the league’s leading premier division scorer with 20 goals.

So what keeps the former England U18 international going?

He said: "I don’t want to stop as my love of the game is so great. That's what drives me on.

"I still really enjoy being out there on a Saturday, scoring goals and winning football matches.

"I love it so much, it's just me loving football. As long as I can continue to do a job on the pitch, I will do it.

“I do everything possible recovery-wise to continue. I prepare my body as best I can for games.

"My diet is very good, your body has to go with you. I’m playing at a very good level especially for my age. I'm still able to play at a high level, for 90 minutes, scoring goals.

"I don't know what's in my genes, something keeps pushing me on.

"Because I can compete at that level, that's my biggest achievement. I'm not out there making the numbers up.”

Cureton, who works as an assistant coach with Arsenal U16s, stepped into management in September last year by taking over the reins at seventh-tier Stortford alongside club owner Steve Smith.

The goals have continued to flow with 19 in league and cup so far this season.

He has the proud record of scoring in all eight top tiers of English football.

He said: “I tend to keep going. By getting 20+ goals in a season, I think I should carry on.

"I am very much driven by targets. What can I get to? I’ve now scored over 350 goals, so I want to get to 400.

"It's given me an insight taking over as joint manager with Steve Smith, like picking teams and giving team talks.

"I always see myself as going into management rather than coaching.”

Cureton speaks fondly about his time with Colchester, saying: "The 2006-07 campaign was probably my best season. As a one-off season, it's my best achievement.

“A lot of the Colchester boys went on to have good careers, it showed the strength of the group that they did really well, moving on to bigger clubs.

"We were the underdogs all the time, it was a phenomenal season. Really dizzy heights for the club. It was so enjoyable to play in.”

Cureton has always made an impact, scoring his first goal for Norwich in 1994 just 13 seconds after coming on as a substitute in a 3-0 Premier League home win over Chelsea.

He reflected: “When I was at the top, I thought that was me for ever. I didn't have the attitude I have now.

"I thought I knew it all, I didn't adapt to what was needed. I felt my ability was enough.

"Going down the levels grounded me and I worked myself back up to the Championship. I was very much Jack the Lad.”

A quarter of a century later, Cureton’s immense enthusiasm for the game is still there.

He said: "I want to play still. I'll be here at Stortford playing and managing next season.

"I'll go through pre-season. See if I deserve my place. As long as I'm effective, I will play. I don’t feel that I’m slowing up.

"I've had a career to be proud of and still get a thrill from scoring. It’s still a great buzz. In fact, the buzz for football is still there.

"People say 'are you not bored yet?' by things like the travelling. I actually enjoy the whole routine of it. I will be devastated to call it a day.”


Norwich City (two spells) 108 24

Bournemouth 6 0

Bristol Rovers 198 79

Reading 127 55

Busan Icons (S Korea) 21 4

QPR 46 7

Swindon 32 7

Colchester 56 31

Barnsley 8 2

Shrewsbury 12 0

Exeter (two spells) 96 42

Leyton Orient 23 1

Cheltenham 36 11

Dagenham & Redbridge 93 29

Farnborough (three spells) 48 28

Eastleigh 7 1

St Albans 17 5

Bishop’s Stortford 65 33

TOTAL 999 games, 359 goals