THERE was always something impishly waif-like about David Templeton that made him seem impervious to the ageing process. Even when the one-time Hearts, Rangers and Hamilton Accies winger grew a scruffy beard it served only to add to that youthful demeanour, making him look not unlike Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

It comes as something of a surprise, then, to learn that Templeton will celebrate his 30th birthday next month. How did that happen? But the years march on for all of us and even the Glaswegian cannot prevent that.

He will mark the occasion as a Burton Albion player, having joined the League One club in the summer. It is his first experience of playing in England and, a few minor injury niggles aside, it has been an enjoyable one, arriving on the back of a 14-month stint at Hamilton that breathed fresh life into a career that was very close to being extinguished at the age of 27.

He has no plans to use the pending milestone to reflect too much on what has been a tumultuous career – he will save that moment for when he hangs up the boots – but does admit that, had he perhaps moved to England earlier, his time in football could well have taken a different trajectory.

The 24-hour period from the evening of August 30, 2012 stands out like a beacon in any analysis of Templeton’s football journey, the then 23-year-old cramming more into one day than many manage in an entire lifetime.

It began with the winger scoring late in the second leg of Hearts’ Europa League qualifying tie against Liverpool at Anfield, Templeton dodging a couple of tackles before uncorking a shot that Pepe Reina clumsily juggled into his net to give Hearts an unlikely lead. Only an even later goal from Luis Suarez denied them extra time but Templeton’s moment of glory still leaves a fuzzy glow.

“That moment was just unreal,” he recalls. “Just that feeling after it goes in….that will always stay with me. And the fact it happened with Hearts, where I really enjoyed my time, makes it an even better memory.”

By the following evening, though, he was a Rangers player, his next game after Anfield in the Third Division against Elgin City. Templeton was happy to have joined such an illustrious club but felt the cash-strapped Romanov regime at Tynecastle had given him little choice.

“We played on the Thursday night at Anfield and stayed overnight,” he says. “Then on the Friday afternoon we trained at Liverpool’s training ground before getting the bus back up the road. It was then that my agent phoned to say Hearts had accepted a bid from Rangers and as soon as I was back up the road I had to go to Murray Park.

“When I got there it became obvious there was a lot more going on behind the scenes at Hearts. Obviously I had a choice about the move, but in another way I didn’t. I was happy at Hearts and loved my time there. In my head I was going to move to England when I left but when this move happened I had to go.”

Templeton spent four largely frustrating seasons at Rangers, his time blighted by inconsistent form, dropping in and out of the team and then the serious knee injury that nearly brought a premature halt to his career.

“It was unreal signing for a massive club like Rangers but it just never worked out for me,” he admits. “There were times when I was fit but not getting picked. I didn’t play as much as I wanted to, maybe coming in for one game and then maybe back out for three or four. That wasn’t much use as a winger as you need to get a run to get consistency. Sometimes they would put full-backs in your position which was frustrating.

“Dropping down the divisions probably wasn’t the best move either. I always wanted to play at the highest level but instead was back in division three. But it’s hard to say no to a club like Rangers.”

After almost two years out of the game, Templeton found both the solution to his troubled knee and then redemption at Accies. There was a sense of freedom that allowed him to thrive, having feared for so long that he would never play again.

“It was good at Accies and I enjoyed my time there,” he says. “We used a 3-5-2 system and I played mostly as a striker but could also drop in as a number 10 which is where I liked playing. That gave me the freedom to do as I wanted. When I signed they gave me time to get my fitness up and I ended up playing most of the games there and did reasonably well.

“The fans took to me pretty quickly and when they are on your side it gives you confidence to try different things. I always said when I was back fit I would just try things maybe I wouldn’t have done before, flicks and skills and things like that. Before you might have been worried that a manager would give you stick but I never felt that way at Accies. I just wanted to enjoy myself.”

His form earned him the move to Burton where he is enjoying a different challenge and playing unburdened by expectation or fear. His only regret is not having tried it sooner.

“Burton is quite similar to Hamilton. It’s a small club but a family club where they look after you. Ever since I’ve come down here they’ve made me feel really welcome, as have all the boys. It’s been enjoyable and a nice change. In terms of football, when I play wide I find it easier down here as I get more time and space on the ball.

“I’m not really getting doubled up on as much by markers – I’m one v one more often which is good. When I was playing in Scotland, wingers were coming back and helping their full-backs which made it a lot harder for me.

“Playing in England these last few months makes me wish I had come down here sooner. I maybe could have done more if I had made that move earlier. But that’s one of these things it’s easy to say in hindsight.

“Ideally I’d like to play a couple of years down here if everything goes well, but if not I’ll come back to Scotland and see out my career there.”

Even the prospect of turning 30 in the New Year doesn’t worry him unduly. He hopes to continue playing for a few more years and has plans to work as a football scout once he retires.

“It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was just starting out in my career,” he adds. “But I don’t feel all that different now. I was never really all that quick for a winger so it’s not like I had a lot of pace to lose.

“I’m going to be playing into my 30s, and a few years ago that didn’t look likely. At 27 I was all set to retire and spoke to my family and my agent about that. That’s when we couldn’t work out what was wrong with my knee. But thankfully we eventually got that sorted.

“Before I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d go home after a match and over-think everything. But now I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.”