Latvia captain Vitālijs Astafjevs will become the most-capped national team player in Europe if he represents his country for the 158th time on Saturday, with the 36-year-old showing little sign of slowing down, saying: "I will play while my help is needed."
The FK Ventspils midfielder currently shares the honour with the retired Martin Reim of Estonia but will take the outright lead if, as expected, he lines up in Latvia's friendly in Honduras. Astafjevs, formerly of Skonto FC, Bristol Rovers FC – from where fans have travelled to watch him in Latvia this season – and FC Rubin Kazan, began his international career in 1992. He subsequently captained Latvia at the first major final tournament, UEFA EURO 2004™.
"I will play while my help is needed in the national team but will not look into numbers," said Astafjevs, whose training regime ensures he is still able to match the pace of players nearly two decades his junior. "If this means breaking the records, it's pleasing." Latvia will discover their UEFA EURO 2012™ qualifying fate when the draw is made in Warsaw on 7 February.
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