"I’ve surprised myself,” says Derek Asamoah as he considers a goalscoring career which, even as he approaches 42, shows no sign of ending. Asamoah was a veteran striker when he signed for Carlisle United nearly nine years ago, yet is still knocking them in for New Salamis in the Isthmian League.

It is also coming up eight years since he scored, unforgettably, at Liverpool in an epic League Cup game – a moment which gave Asamoah eternal cult status among Blues fans. He was 34 then, yet here he is in his fifth decade, with the end still nowhere in sight.

Asamoah says he keeps going because his body is still holding up, as is the pace for which he was always known. “Every time someone gets a whiff of who I am, they say things like, ‘But ain’t you meant to be retired? How are you so fast at 41? It’s impossible!’

“I’m still getting onto through passes, chasing down defenders. I'm hitting 33 kilometers an hour, which is not too far off what I was hitting in my prime, which was about 35-36. It’s not much of a drop, so defenders are still finding it hard to keep up with me…”

Asamoah may be facing the future in one respect, since on the day we meet he is at a football centre in east London to watch his ten-year-old son Roman training. He has four other boys, one of whom, 20-year-old Maleace, has played alongside him for New Salamis but is now poised to join an EFL club.

Yet Asamoah is helping to nurture his sons as a still-current player – one who was prolific in helping his team to promotion last season, and who has scored 51 goals in two campaigns. While he has looked after his body to help him prolong his career, he cannot help feeling a degree of amusement at how he is still going so strongly.

“I had stopped playing a couple of years ago, and I was about to announce that I’d hung up my boots,” he says. “I was playing a bit of veterans’ football, over-35s, and the manager of my vets team was also the manager of New Salamis.

“He was like, ‘It’s unfair, you playing here!’, and ‘Gosh, you can still do it. Come play for me’. I said no, I’m done, and I was just playing for fun. But he kept asking, said they needed goals. I agreed to come watch a game. They played football on the floor, and it wasn't chasing around and running around like I was expecting.

“So I said I’d play a couple of games, see how it goes. And I felt good. I loved playing in front of a crowd again, playing for a purpose again. I just got the buzz back.”

Contrary to the cliché of ageing players dropping back on the pitch and allowing others to do the running, Asamoah remains a bustling forward. He also revels in his veteran status.

“I think I'm definitely the oldest in the league. The oldest I’ve seen other than me is 38 or something,” he says. “When I’m running past defenders, sometimes I make a joke – ‘How are you letting me run past you like that? Can your dad run as fast as me?’ I went past a boy of 18 or 19 and I’m like, ‘Come on man, you have to take more pride!’ – just having banter.

“Honestly, I’m loving it. It's the it's the best thing I did. It’s giving me a whole new lease of energy, a new lease of life. When you get to a certain age, it’s easy to think, ‘I’m a bit old, I’d better stop’. But my body is not ready to stop.”

Asamoah keeps in shape through several gym sessions a week, two training sessions with his club and plenty of football work with his sons. He is an advertisement for the modern individual approach to the profession, where players are meticulous about all aspects of their preparation.

“The key is not what I’m doing right now, but what I did before when I was a pro,” he says. “I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, I didn’t eat junk food. I was always in the gym. I always looked after myself before, during and after games. I made sure I had a good warm-up and cool down.

“I looked after myself. So I think this is just carrying on from there. I'm not doing anything extra special. I think it's just the habits that I built from when I was pro.

“The culture of football has changed. A lot of players treat football as nine-to-five now – they don’t just train for two hours then go home and have a beer and a kebab or a Chinese. They have a personal trainer, and work on themselves for much longer. That’s why more are playing longer.”

Asamoah rarely misses a game and frequently completes 90 minutes, and was pivotal to last season's Spartan Premier Division title victory of New Salamis, a London club so named as they were formed by fans of Cypriot club Nea Salamina Famagusta. After being voted their player of the year, Asamoah’s team-mates sang his name – then, surreally, watched manager Richard Georgiou reveal a pair of boxer shorts featuring Asamoah’s face.

He laughs heartily at this. “Only in non-league! I couldn't believe it. When he actually started pulling down his trousers, I was quite close to him and was like, ‘What are you doing?!’ It was a bit weird having my face on another man’s boxers. All fun and games…”

Until recently, Asamoah has enjoyed the special experience of playing in the same side as his eldest boy. Maleace, a talented wide attacking player, has spells with Reading and Tottenham’s youth set-ups before playing in Greece. His return to England this season saw a stint in the same New Salamis team as his father.

News and Star: Until recently, Asamoah and his son Maleace were team-mates with New SalamisUntil recently, Asamoah and his son Maleace were team-mates with New Salamis (Image: Other)

“It was unbelievable,” says Asamoah senior. “I mean, he's come everywhere with me. He even came to Carlisle, a little kid in the changing room, met all the players. He came to the Liverpool game, went to South Korea, Bulgaria, France with me…and to actually come to the point where we're actually playing in the same teams, it's just what dreams are made of.

“I always wanted it to happen, and three years ago I didn’t think it would, because I’d stopped playing competitive football. Then, when I came back and he came training with me one day, the coach was like, ‘Wow, let’s get him signed’.”

They teamed up in the Isthmian League, and Asamoah adds: “There's been times where he's been really annoyed at me because I should have put him through and I chose another option. I said sorry to him after, and said I’d buy him dinner…

“He's actually assisted me with a goal and I was hoping to return the favour for him, but he had to leave about two weeks ago.” This was because Maleace was training with a League One club – successfully, his dad says, since a contract offer has since been made (the identity of the club can’t be revealed until the summer).

“I’m so proud of him,” Asamoah adds. “He went out to Greece when he was 18, and for an 18-year-old to do that…even when I was 24 I had an opportunity to go abroad and I was terrified, so I said no. For him to do that for a year and a half, the experience he has gained was so valuable.”

Asamoah says it would be “a great story” if Carlisle go up and face Maleace’s new team next season, and this would continue the connection with the Blues which, from 2014-17, saw the striker as a characterful part of United’s squad.

He joined the Blues in the autumn of 2014 after returning from South Korea, and scored some important goals in their League Two survival under Keith Curle. The following season saw that League Cup run, Asamoah scoring in an upset victory at QPR, before that stirring night at Anfield.

News and Star: Asamoah's famous goal for Carlisle against Liverpool in 2015Asamoah's famous goal for Carlisle against Liverpool in 2015 (Image: Jonathan Becker)

His first-half goal, after a shimmying run from Bastien Hery, went down in Blues folklore. United drew 1-1 with Brendan Rodgers’ Reds, going down agonizingly on penalties, but it was an unforgettable evening.

“Every now and then I'll get reminded of it, especially around the anniversary,” Asamoah says. “I always get messages from fans who want to thank me. They say, ‘You made so many people’s night’. It’s something I'll never forget as well.

“I always said to myself that, given an opportunity, I could test myself against the top teams in the world. When I scored that goal, it meant a lot, because I felt, ‘Yeah, I can do it. I remember playing against Man United [for Northampton], and I did really well. I hit the post. So it was nice to score to say, ‘Yeah, I can score at that level’.”

Asamoah says the goal is in his personal all-time top five, and adds: “It was the occasion, and what it meant to people as well. It's not the most amazing strike but it was just the whole move and the whole team play, and to be able to pass the ball and like cut through a team like Liverpool who were very well known for their press and defending, and score a beautiful team goal.”

As Asamoah shot home at the Kop end, equalising Danny Ings' Liverpool opener, he tumbled and did not see the ball hit the net. The roar from the Anfield Road End, packed with Blues fans, told him what had happened, and he celebrated with a cartwheel and a machine-gun routine with Hery.

“Every time I watch it back, I always get the same feeling,” he says. “Sometimes I look and I think, ‘Was that really you?’

“It just takes you back to the moment, the whole day, the morning when we trained at Everton’s training ground, walking through Liverpool and just taking it all in, getting to the stadium with the crowd all around the bus…unbelievable.”

News and Star: Derek Asamoah celebrates at Anfield with provider Bastien HeryDerek Asamoah celebrates at Anfield with provider Bastien Hery (Image: PA)

Many United fans often joke that Liverpool’s recent successes, including a Premier League title and a sixth European Cup, are down to Asamoah, since their near-embarrassment against the Blues proved one of Rodgers’ final games, and heralded the arrival of Jurgen Klopp.

“That does make me laugh because I actually like Brendan Rodgers and he was unfortunate,” Asamoah says. “I was told he wanted to say hello to me after the game, but I must have been in the shower and I missed him when I came out.

“Drawing 1-1 with a League Two team wasn’t really a good look for him, unfortunately. So they got Klopp in and they’ve done amazing.”

Asamoah, in two Carlisle spells, made 90 appearances and scored 14 goals. “It was an amazing, amazing time. And I loved living up in Carlisle. It was so far away from home, but it was a nice, quite little place, where everyone was really friendly. Everyone kind of knows you there as well.

“When fans remember me, it means so much. They were always so polite and kind. Even today, on Instagram, Facebook, I’m always getting very nice messages, wishing me well, happy birthday, stuff like that. I haven’t got a bad word to say about them.

“I just wish that I’d started more games there. At one point I was doing really well, then I'd be taken out the team. And then it was it was a lot of stop and start, so it was hard for me to build momentum. Keith [Curle] said we had other strikers there who needed a chance.

“But it is what it is. He treated me really, really well, brought me into the club, and I just wish I could have given more.”

Asamoah keeps in touch with team-mates from that time, such as Jabo Ibehre, Alex McQueen, Angelo Balanta and manager Curle. When the future does oblige him to stop playing, he says he would prefer to help develop young players rather than thrust himself into the harsh world of management. “I’d like to help kids who are in the position I was in at the beginning – I was in no academy, I just worked and got lucky with a trial at Northampton,” he says. “I’d like to encourage kids, give them a platform where they can train and work hard, and give them some guidance.”

News and Star: Asamoah started his pro career with Northampton Town, who face Carlisle tomorrowAsamoah started his pro career with Northampton Town, who face Carlisle tomorrow (Image: PA)

Those days are down the line, but for the moment, the story remains Asamoah the player. He turns 42 on May 1, but says: “I've had offers to go back into the National League, but I’ve chosen to stay here. But every now and then, especially when I have a really good game, I do think, ‘Could I do it at that level?’

“I went and played a legends game with Shrewsbury the other week, and all the fans were like, ‘One more season, you can do it, have a word with the chairman…’ and I toy with it. Sometimes I think I could probably come on in the second half, and do 25-30 minutes, and maybe start one or two games…”

A footballer is nothing without his dreams and fantasies, even one at Asamoah’s stage. “Sometimes we play two games in a week and I expect to wake up the next day all achy and thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ But I still feel absolutely fine,” he says.

“Because of that, it’s difficult to think of the end. After last year, this year and next season, we’ll take it from there, but right now it’s hard to say that I’m going to finish at 43 or 44, because I just don’t know – and I might not.”