STEVEN HETHERINGTON only knows one way to play football and he isn't likely to change any time soon.

Hard and fast, full bloodied, with his heart on his sleeve, the Englishman is adored by Alloa fans for running himself into the ground every time he takes to the pitch.

He's less loved by his opponents and there aren't many Championship players who haven't been on the receiving end of a Hetherington tackle during his six year spell with the part-timers.

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Life has changed, however, beyond recognition since the 27-year-old last threw himself into a challenge and he's had to adapt to football's shutdown like everyone else.

It's something he admits hasn't been easy but enforced time away from the game he loves has given him a new appreciation for the sport.

"At first I was a nightmare and I am sure my girlfriend would agree," he tells Advertiser Sport about how he has coped during lockdown. "Although she would probably put it in stronger words.

"You are normally getting ready for it when you are coming towards the end of the season and you might be looking at who you have to play and what you need to survive.

"It wasn't just the fact it got cut but it was the fact there was no footie to play or anything to do. During the off season you can normally go on holiday or go to the pub because it is your time to chill out.

"Those first three weeks or so I was at a loose end but it has gradually gotten better. I like to focus on a certain date but we didn't even have that.

"Now things are picking back up and you know when it is going to come back you can sort your training out."

He continues: "It has made me appreciate to try to play for as long as I can. I know when the time does come that I do retire it's not going to be a total black out as it is now.

"But, in terms of missing the game, it's made me realise I need to play as long as I can and to try to stay in the game after I retire.

"The lads will all agree; we love playing football, but it's getting together as a group and a dressing room that keeps you going. I definitely miss that.

"We are like that naturally as people to want more than we have got. The minute it has gone you appreciate it.

"I don't want to be one of those ones who plays so long people turn up and think 'oh, for goodness sake, what's he doing'. 

"It has potentially made me think about how I train and maybe play to extend my career. Maybe in the years to come I will pick up more from players and other people and I am always one to want to know throughout the game what the top players are doing.

"You follow players on social media and things like that to see what they do and what sorts of rehab they do.

"Andy Graham is one like that and the older you get the more you might realise that less is more."

One thing he hasn't had to worry about during the last few months is the future of his football career and while others across Scotland are currently out of work the Alloa squad has known for some time an offer was on the table.

It's a gesture Hetherington has come to expect from chairman Mike Mulraney and it's why he believes so many players stick around for so long in Clacks.

He says: "Before the pandemic started and as we knew it was going to get worse before it got better, the club made us all aware they were going to be in a position to offer us to stay on.

Strathallan Times: Mike Mulraney Mike Mulraney

"It was then going to be up to the players to go from there. It just reiterates again what Mike is like in looking after the players. He treats us very well, even when players move on.

READ MORE: Alloa Athletic teammates give Iain Flannigan fitting send off as he retires

"It's the reason why when you look through recent seasons at Alloa so many players have been part of the squad for years.

"At part-time level you might get a couple of players who stick around for a year or two but to re-sign again they have put our minds at ease.

"The right decision for me was to stay.

"It takes your mind away from it (the pandemic and uncertainty) and that was put in place quite early. Now you can just concentrate on the other stuff rather than putting your football career also onto the list of things to worry about."