Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns spoke of his desire to play into his late thirties, citing the example of veteran Manchester United midfielders Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
Burns, who turned 34 in April and has two years remaining on his contract, revealed he is keen to help Glory become a consistent force within the A-League.
“Last season I felt the best physically I have since returning to Australia from Europe,” Burns said, on the eve of Glory's two-week tour of South Africa.
“People often ask ‘why are you playing on?’ but the reality is I am still hungry and motivated and until I can’t keep up and my game is suffering I’ll keep ticking on for as long as I can.
“I’d be the first to put my hand up if I wasn’t pulling my weight but I’ve been lucky to have had a pretty much injury free career and I’d love to play on in the A-League into my late 30s. Age is just a number.
“Look at Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes and how well they are still playing, so why not?
"You are a long-time retired and I am going to enjoy the game as long as I can. I keep telling my team-mates that I am the football equivalent of Benjamin Button.
“But once players start getting past me too easily and I no longer look forward to training and playing then I will know the time has come.”
Burns thinks Kevin Muscat quit Melbourne Victory prematurely at 36 and was badly missed by the club last season. He doesn't want the same thing to happen at his club.
“I feel Kevin Muscat still had a lot to offer and you could see that Victory struggled a bit without his presence,” Burns said.
“He always looked after himself and was force right to the end. He could certainly have continued on.”
Burns believes Glory is well-placed to replicate the achievements of the side that finished runner-up last season, on the back of the arrival of Australia defender Michael Thwaite.
“We have pretty much the core of our starting team in last year’s grand final against Brisbane bar one and have added the likes of Michael, Chris Harold and Adrian Zhara,” Burns said.
“Michael is a standout, of course, and has been for the past couple of seasons. We played together at Wisla Krakow and he’s a super talent who a lot of the clubs were chasing.
"He will add a new dimension because he’s a rare thing, a ball-playing centre-back.”
Burns said Glory will use its 2-1 Grand Final loss to Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium as motivation to go one better.
“It’s a massive incentive,” he said. “Losing that game doesn’t sit well with us and I believe we will improve. We are aware of the mark we made last year and teams will lift when they play us.
“We have to look at every aspect of our game and what we can do to get better. We are setting our targets very high. We have to make sure we do not lose any of the momentum we’ve gathered. We want to be a team that is there or thereabouts every season.”
Glory will play top South African sides Amazulu and Platinum All Stars during its three-game tour.
“They are in season, they fit and organised and that’s just the sort of the competition you want," Burns said.
“We were there last year where we won one, drew one and lost one and they were physical, demanding games.
"There is some real talent over there and a great test for us, which it will be again.”