Warren Barton wants
to end his career with Newcastle - and hopes to sign a new
"In the next couple of months I want to sit down and agree a
new 3-year deal," says the 31-year-old.
"I don't expect any problems. And, realistically, it will mean
finishing my days with Newcastle."
Stresses Barton: "I've still got ambitions and one of them is
to help bring back a trophy for the Newcastle fans.
"They are the best in
the country and deserve something. I've also not given up hope of getting
back into the England set-up. "I've played under Kevin Keegan, Kenny
Dalglish, Rudd Gullit and Bobby Robson and learned a lot. And I've already
got my FIFA coaching badge, which I took with Stuart Pearce, so would like
to stay in the game when I stop playing."
Ironic that two Londoners, Barton, vice
captain at St James' Park, and Robert Lee are the longest serving players at
"Rob was here when I arrived and naturally we are good mates,"
says Barton. "I have never had a problem moving north and I've
certainly got no regrets. This is a fantastic club with fantastic
That quartet of managers, each top names in the game, make impressive
reading. As does the men Barton has played with, which include the likes of
Peter Beardsley, David Ginola, David Batty and Faustino Asprilla.
"I've seen a lot of changes, managers and players," admits
Barton, a dashing blond defender who as a youngster was rejected by Arsenal
because he was too small. "It's alarming if you were to make a
It's indicative of Barton's loyalty, as well as his professionalism and
ability, that he has side stepped the revolving door which has seen so many
come and go. And retained the respect of who ever occupied the manager's
chair. Barton signed from Wimbledon for £4 million during the euphoria of
Keegan's gung ho football, when it looked as if Newcastle would win the
title after being 12 points clear of Manchester United.
"I have the utmost respect for Kevin Keegan, his style of
play and for what he did for the club," says Barton. "I've
great memories of those days and not winning the championship must rank as
one of my biggest disappointments. They say that the first trophy is the
hardest to win. I was surprised when he left but Kevin is his own man.
"Strange perhaps but I did not have an axe to grind with any of the
managers I've played under.
"Kenny Dalglish was a passionate man. I was pleased to see
him because there was talk that he was going to buy me from Wimbledon when
he was at both Liverpool and Blackburn. "In his first year we qualified
for the Champions League and reached the FA Cup final. That wasn't bad.
"Yet the public never really took to him, although he was different
bloke away from the media. They said he was dour but he could be very
amusing and great company. Few people saw that side of him.
"Then came Ruud Gullit, who we all, of course, admired as a
player. I never had a real problem with him footballwise. He could be aloof
and detached. He insisted that it was how it was done in Italy between a
coach and his players."
Barton concedes that of the field the morale and spirit of the players
dropped towards the end of his reign.
"He could not see eye to eye with Alan Shearer and Rob and I were
affected. They weren't only colleagues but friends. And they were leaders
among the players. They weren't playing towards the end and the atmosphere
wasn't good. "There was no banter about the place. I'd always been used
to that at Wimbledon and Newcastle. It was not a nice place to be. Plus the
fact that we weren't winning games."
The impact of the arrival of former England manager Bobby Robson
was dramatic. "From day one there was a change," reflects
Barton. "There was a new buzz about the place. I just can't speak
too highly of Bobby Robson. You could see why he had been so successful both
in this country and abroad. "He is a likable man although you know he
has a streak of steel in him. He treats you right. If your honest with him
he's honest with you. He is a gentleman. Old school. And I think I have
learned the most from him. "It's all about man management. He talks and
is concerned about everyone at the club from the kit man to the girl in
reception. He displays that experience of some 50 years in football.
"So far it has not gone too bad. We're not many points away from a
European place. I've played right and left back and centre-half because of
injuries. We've lost key players. "Carl Cort who we signed from
Wimbledon has been dreadfully unlucky with a freak injury. He had a
hamstring which then damaged the tendon. I know he wants to get back to
prove he was worth the money the club paid for him. "Things can change
in the space of a few games. A couple of win and you're right up the table.
And with everyone fit there's no reason why we can't have succcess."
Of the men he played with Beardsley, Ginola, Asprilla and Batty come
easily to Barton's thoughts.
"I got to know David well because we were in the same hotel when I
first arrived, along with Les Ferdinand and Shaka Hislop. I don't think he
missed training once during his time here. He had a great attitude and was a
fantastic player. "So was Peter. I also think of Lee Clark who is doing
so well at Fulham. I would be surprised if he did not win international
Barton had the misfortune to make his international debut in that aborted
match against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, when rampaging English fans
hurled seats onto the pitch during disgraceful scenes.
"I remember my concern over the safety of my wife and family," says
Barton, who won two more caps, the last five years ago. "I'm happy
with my career but haven't discarded thoughts of England. You just keep
going and hope you're playing well enough to come into the
WARREN BARTON CHATLINES
Any superstitions? I'm not like Paul Ince who does put his shirt on
until running out but it is the last thing I take off the peg and put
Most treasured possessions? Other than my wife Candy and children
Milo (two) and Kane (six months), my FA Cup runners-up medals and my England
Which players have made you laugh the most? Vinnie Jones, during
my time at Wimbledon, David Batty and Lee Clark. But Rob Lee and Alan
Shearer are always up to something and can be very funny.
Any hobbies? I now have a travel agency and help run soccer
schools. I also like golf.
Words you will never forget? Coach Ray Harford used to say:
"If you're tired just remember your opponent is just as tired."
And coach Arthur Cox had a few sayings. "The ball is round and is to go
around," he'd say. And: "I never known a player as quick as a
moving ball." Kevin Keegan would always say: "Enjoy it, you play
better if you're enjoying yourself."
Disappointments? That England debut, not winning those FA Cup
finals and that season we came so close to the title.
Ambitions? Most of all I suppose to give those Newcastle
supporters some silverware. No group of fans deserves it more."