KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After a 2012 season marked by pain and frustration, Bobby Convey is once again healthy and ready to show that there's still plenty of life in his high-mileage legs.
The left winger, who is in the 14th season of a pro career that started when he was just 16, showed no traces of last year's calf and hamstring injuries when Sporting Kansas City opened preseason training on Friday. He looked solid in conditioning tests and in passing/possession drills, and afterward pronounced himself healthy and ready to go.
“I don't feel old any more,” said Convey, who will turn 30 in May. “I feel good. We'll see what happens going forward. I really hope to be doing well. I probably haven't felt this fit since I've been in England.”
Manager Peter Vermes was impressed with what he saw from the veteran.
“It's fantastic," he said. "You can tell he's done a lot of work since last season, and it's not just the offseason. He was working hard to try to get back in [in 2012], and he's done everything he can to get back this year.”
Convey was a key component in Sporting's club-record 7-0-0 start last year, but injuries limited him to 14 starts and 18 appearances. And while he was able to return to the pitch late in the season, it was clear that he wasn't at full strength.
“When you're injured, it's very difficult to come back during the season,” Convey said. “I basically tore my hamstring. Anybody who's had that knows it's extremely difficult to come back from. And on top of that, it was frustrating mentally. Every time I came back, I'd get injured. So I just made a choice to really get in shape and make a difference this year.”
That involved rehab work, lifestyle changes and coming to grips with the fact that he's not a kid any more.
“I changed my diet,” said Convey, who now eats five meals a day. “I changed everything. I really wanted to come in – if this is my last year, if it's next year, however many years I have left to play – I wanted to be fit instead of being injured.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.