Defender signs one-year contract extension
GARETH McAuley today put pen to paper on another one-year deal to extend his remarkable Premier League career at The Hawthorns.
The much-loved defender will be 38 when the 2017/18 season turns the halfway mark but such are all the signals from McAuley’s form and fitness that there was no hesitation from player or Club about adding a further year to his stay.
“It’s very pleasing,” said the Northern Ireland international. “I’d like to thank the Club, the gaffer and everyone here who helps me to stay fit to be able to play at this level.
“It’s very, very pleasing. When I signed I just wanted to play in the Premier League and I knew that wasn’t a given when I came here. But I’ve still got that desire sitting here today.
“I don’t think that will leave me. It’s a good thing because it keeps you motivated, keeps you pushing forward.”
Since signing for Albion on a free transfer in 2011 at the 31, McAuley’s longevity has earned growing plaudits as he has racked up 208 Albion appearances including 187 in the Premier League.
This season, he found himself in exalted company after being voted among the top three veterans in European football alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Xabi Alonso.
His seven goals have also made him the division’s top scoring central defender.
McAuley says he wouldn’t have agreed a new deal unless he felt he could sustain his fitness levels.
“I’ve based my decision on physically being able to do it,” he said. “If I didn’t think I could I wouldn’t hang about. The tests don’t show any signs that I can’t cope with it.
“I’ve worked for a living outside the football bubble and I will more than likely have to go back there one day.
“But as long as you can do this, the best job in the world, then you should continue and I’m not going to turn by back on it.”