Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish put it perfectly the other week when he said that Christmas is the only time of the year when footballers have to do the complete opposite to the rest of the nation.

Average Joes spend the entire year dreaming of donning their club’s colours, gracing the finest-groomed pitches, attracting the admiration of millions and earning a grand wage for kicking a football around.

However when the festive period arrives every man finally has the opportunity to view their idols in a less-than-envious light.

We switch off from work completely. They’re thinking of playing in a crucial match the following day.

We nod off on the sofa in front of a traditional festive flick and a cosy fire. They venture out into the freezing cold for a three-mile run.

We spend the whole day with our loved ones. They have to dash off to catch a coach that evening.

We indulge ourselves in chocolate, snacks, turkey, trimmings and alcohol. They have to make do with a glass of water and a tuna salad.

The list could go on.

Cameron Jerome may only be 22 years old but he forgot about the true lazy joys of Christmas a long time ago.

The England Under-21 international may be wealthy and be the envy of most football fans but spare a thought for him on Christmas Day.

He’ll enjoy a morning off, albeit not in his home town of Huddersfield, before boarding a coach for a three-hour journey to Ipswich where he’ll spend the night at a lonely hotel in preparation for a match at Portman Road the following day.

It won’t perturb Jerome, however, as he admits he’s grown used to a less-than-merry Christmas.

“The more you play the more season-proned you become, you get used to it and it’s in the back of your mind,” Jerome said.

“You’ve got to be professional because you’ve got a job to do. We get the morning off on Christmas Day and then we’ve got the game on Boxing Day so we’ll travel down on the evening.

“It’s not a major thing, you still get Christmas at home for a few hours which isn’t a bad thing. I’d much rather be playing on Boxing Day than sat in the stands. You play your games, rest in between and you’re sensible by making sure you’re free of bad food and alcohol.”

Not that you would find Jerome, who will be searching for his seventh goal of the campaign when he heads to Ipswich, complaining as he is fully aware that his job has plenty of benefits.

Because he will be hoping that when a promotion-winning campaign is complete in May, Jerome will enjoy a long summer off.

“You’ve got time to enjoy yourself in the summer when it’s your Christmas and birthday rolled into one. It’s part and parcel of your job, you’ve got to be professional about it, the more you think about it, it’s worth it.

“I’d rather be in my position making sacrifices than getting up at 7.30am and being a bin man, no offence to bin men but it’s a job I love and there’s a lot of people who would love to be doing it too.”

Who’s for another mince pie? Not Cameron.