Nick Matthew column: A winter break in football would benefit the national team

England boss Roy Hodgson

England boss Roy Hodgson

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I have always taken Christmas Day off.

I might go for a 40 minute run early doors and then put my feet up for the rest of the day. It’s nice to actually rest and spend some quality time with the family.

Tomorrow I will have a beer or two as well as Christmas dinner. Quite often in squash, our last tournament takes place at the end of December so you are due some time off anyway.

There are times when you need to rest your body and switch off so having a couple of beers is not a problem. As I’ve got older, I’ve got more relaxed about things like that.

It’s important for athletes to get the balance right over Christmas. You can’t just binge drink. You’ve got to look after your body because when you do go back into training, you don’t want to go into it tired through drinking too much over Christmas.

For footballers, Christmas is the busiest period. They sometimes have to go into training on Christmas Day and then are in action on Boxing Day. It’s part and parcel of their job.

Every year, there is always talk in football of them introducing a winter break. The squash season mirrors the football calendar. We generally get a two to three week break from tournaments. My next event is in New York, starting on January 16.

The Christmas period is such a tradition in this country.If you are a football fan, it’s the best time of year to watch matches. I will be going down to Hillsborough on Boxing Day to watch Sheffield Wednesday versus Blackpool with eight of my friends and family. Whenever Wednesday are at home around Christmas, we always try to go. There is nothing better than watching a game on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. The atmosphere is always great.

Then again, a lot of countries do benefit from having a winter break. It certainly wouldn’t harm England’s chances of reaching the latter stages of tournaments if they had a break. But, that would be one of about 100 things we need to do to improve the standard of football in this country. England won’t suddenly win the World Cup if they bring in a winter break!

For me, I would not mess with the festive schedule but maybe they could have the break in January after the FA Cup third round. It’s a tough one but, over the last few years, that’s when the weather has been its worst in England.