He spent his summer preparing for life after football, but Russell Martin is not ready to step away from the pitch and into the dug out just yet.
After being described as Paul Tisdale’s signing of the season following promotion to League One, Martin completed ambition number one by helping Dons out of League Two at the first attempt.
Experienced at every level of the game in England, Martin spent the summer working on his FIFA Pro Licence, while he completed an LMA Diploma in Football Management too, signalling his intent to continue in the game when he hangs up his boots.
But as Dons returned to pre-season training this week, it may be a few years away yet for the 33-year-old.
He said: “I went on the LMA Diploma in Football Management, I started that last season and finished it this summer and then I went on my Pro Licence with the Scottish FA in Italy for the European Under-21 Championships.
“It was brilliant, there was loads of learning, a lot of challenges. It’s unfortunate that it eats into the family time a bit, but it’s stuff that I want to get done as I’m really interested in that side of the game and it’s a big reason why I came here to play for the manager.
“He’s been great with me and let me go and do my badges, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Martin played 18 games after swapping Walsall for Dons in January, scoring the vital winner against Forest Green in April and helped keep a clean-sheet in the final day promotion-securing win over Mansfield.
But with pre-season training already underway, he is eager to prove himself back in League One .
Martin added: “I kept fit while I was there, but it’s now back to football. It comes around quickly, that’s one thing you notice as you get older, it goes really quickly but it’s really good to be back, the season will come around just as quickly and I’m looking forward to it.
“I haven’t had a full pre-season for the last two years, I’m really looking forward to getting one under my belt, you can miss days here and there but if you miss a chunk of pre-season you’re always playing catch up to the rest of the lads.
“I’m looking forward to chucking myself into this pre-season and getting as fit as I possibly can and I think it’s the same aim for everyone – to get in the team for the first game of the season.
“This group and the lads we’ve added in, we have a really professional, hard working group and that was part of the reason why we were so successful last season, personally, I just want to work as hard as I can and get in the team."