Life, so the old saying goes, begins at 40. Is turning 50, then, the beginning of the end? Philippe Clement, who celebrated hitting his half-century with his friends and family back home in Belgium during the international window, doesn’t believe that it is.

“I don’t feel any different to be honest,” said the Rangers manager after a training session at Auchenhowie today as he spoke to the media for the first time since the Europa League last 16 defeat to Benfica earlier this month.

“A lot of people tell me that 50 is special, but I don’t feel any different from 40. Only when I look in the mirror. It depends on the day. Sometimes I think I still want to play like in my 30s, some days my body tells me I’m not at that age anymore.”

Clement - whose team will attempt to leapfrog Celtic, who take in Livingston at Almondvale tomorrow, into top spot in the cinch Premiership table this afternoon by beating Hibernian at Ibrox - certainly showed no signs of slowing down during the break.

He was grateful that his landmark birthday fell at a stage of the season when he was able to get a few days off and return home to celebrate it. His thoughts, though, were never far away from Rangers during his flying visit to his homeland.

“I am a lucky man,” he said. “The timing was really good as it was the first occasion I managed to get back home to my family. It was a good coincidence. I enjoyed it. It was nice to see the kids back, my parents and my wife who had been back in Belgium for a few days. It was nice also to see some friends so I enjoyed all of that, fully.

“But my mind is still on football, I am still making calls to people at the club. They know they can call me also. It’s not a case of me saying, ‘Okay guys, I’m going home to Belgium for three days, don’t call me’. I have been in contact with the club through that time. It is normal, it’s my life.”

A number of Rangers players have been away with their countries in the past fortnight – Cyriel Dessers (Nigeria), Leon King (Scotland Under-21), Rabbi Matondo (Wales), Ross McCausland (Northern Ireland), Fabio Silva (Portugal Under-21), John Souttar (Scotland) and Ridvan Yilmaz (Turkey) – and Clement has kept close tabs on all of them.

“I want to know everything,” he said. “I track everything, otherwise I cannot sleep. We know everything. That is also one of the things we installed the last time it was international duty in November - that we have contact with the players every day about their training, what they are doing.

READ MORE: Cyriel Dessers has SPFL's best goalscoring numbers - but is he any good?

“So that in one moment you can intervene when it is not enough, for example, and players are not playing. You can have contact with the federations to do something extra. Of course, if they do too much you don’t have control of that, that is a pity.

“That is something I need to let go. That is part of our lives as managers of clubs and I think a lot of managers have problems with that sometimes. With a lot of federations there is a really good contact and it is important because if the players perform here well and develop well it is better for the national teams as well.”

Jurgen Klopp announced back in January that he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season because he had “run out of energy” and Clement can appreciate why the German has taken the decision to depart Anfield.

He has seen first hand what a heavy toll being in charge of a major club can take on a manager. However, he stressed that he is, having only arrived in this country back in October, not at that stage quite yet. He has been revitalised by his holiday and is relishing the challenges which lie ahead of him and his charges in the coming weeks.

“How old is Jurgen?” he said. “He started earlier than me. I don’t have the feeling that at this moment it will be too much. But I have seen it in the past, I saw it with Michel Preud’homme. I was his assistant (at Club Brugge) for four years and in the last year it was too much.

“He stopped after and he became technical director for two more years and then stopped. So I understand that maybe in one moment it is too much. But it’s an individual thing. I am not thinking about that at the moment. You have people in their 70s still doing it.”

Clement’s enthusiasm for the important Premiership and Scottish Cup games which are coming up suggest that he may have another couple of decades or so in management at the very top level ahead of him.

“The squad was not together during the break,” he said. “I had today the first time all my players back. It is always exciting because I always see our story together like a book and I talked about that in the past.

“Every week we write new pages together and it is important they don’t forget pages you wrote together before in the way we play football, the way we need to move together on the pitch.

“It seems like months ago that we played together. That is my feeling. I want to see that they didn’t forget anything, that is a challenge. It is a new test again.”