'Wife passed my fitness tests for me'

It's hardly a novel thought footballers don't enjoy pre-season preparation but former Bayer Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling, who announced his retirement last year, took things to another level.

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Kie├čling, 34, a prolific target-man during his career, racked up 144 goals in 403 league games and proved over his career that he was no slouch as he finished as the 17th highest scorer in Bundesliga history.

But speaking to Sport Bild, the 2012/13 top-scorer revealed his wife Norina, often gave him a helping hand over the course of his distinguished career.

"I never did one hundred percent of the exercises in the preparation periods, not once," he said. "You get a heart rate monitor on which all runs are saved.

"As my wife is very athletic, she did some racing with the wristband according to my specs. She did it so well that nobody noticed," he added, before saying it had no impact on anything he did on the pitch, where he was "always in the lead'.

"Of course I knew when the boys have to start on vacation. We've just been to Mexico, and I said to my wife, "Honey, I'm not going to the gym today. I prefer to stay on the beach.'"