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The Big interview - Warren Barton

First appeared on Skysports Tues 19.12.00

 

Warren Barton wants to end his career with Newcastle - and hopes to sign a new three-year contract.

"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 Newcastle. 

"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 supporters." 

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 list." 

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 recognition." 

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 reckoning." 

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 on. 

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 caps. 

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."
 


Page last updated 24 June, 2009