John Barnes Visits St Michael and All Angels Primary School - 8th Feb. 2016

On Monday 8th February 2016 we were very lucky because John Barnes – former Liverpool Footballer visited our school and took part in a question and answer session in assembly. This is what he said............

Q. What was the best moment of your career?

There isn’t one particular moment – the whole of my 17 year career I loved.

Q. Which was your best goal?

All of the goals I scored against Everton! Only joking, Everton are my second favourite team! The goal against Brazil is the one many people say is my best goal but that goal and the goal I scored against Bristol Rovers are the same. A goal is a goal!

Q. If we wanted to be professional footballers, how should we go about it?

Right attitude, right discipline and hard work. If you want to succeed at anything, even in school it is all about having a positive attitude, determination and discipline. You do need talent but lots of people have talent but don’t make it. It’s not just about what happens on a Saturday during a match, it’s the hard work that’s put in from Monday to Friday. When you look at great football players you have to think about the amount of work that goes in to making them great. They listen to their coach and train every day of the week. (John then compares it to exams saying it’s the hard work you put into study that makes the exam results good not the way you sit the exam!)

Q. How long did you play football?

I played football all my life but I played professional football for 17 years.

Q. What are the differences between England and Jamaica?

The weather! It’s much hotter in Jamaica and doesn’t rain as much! The beaches are also nicer in Jamaica. But actually there are few differences when you think about people because people in Jamaica are the same as people here. I have travelled the world and been to Africa with charities and have learned that people are all the same wherever you go. There may be differences in religions and cultures but essentially people are the same. It’s the opportunities that are different in different countries. (John then spoke about his own children and how lucky they had been because of the opportunities they have had.)

Q. How did it feel to play for England?

Growing up in Jamaica the only football you really saw was the World Cup and you wanted to play for your country. I considered playing for my country a great honour and I was extremely fortunate to have this chance.

Q. How many trophies have you won across your career?

Oooh I don’t know (begins to count)…..about 10 I think. I’m not someone who has a trophy cabinet, I don’t even know where my medals are…in a box somewhere. Just because I can’t see them, does it mean I haven’t won them? I am prouder of the work I put in to achieve the trophies and medals than the actual trophies themselves. The pride is about the work you do. When you have success, the pride comes from the effort you put in.

Q. What charities have you helped and how have you helped them?

I’ve worked with lots of charities such as Save The Children and Christian Aid and visited Africa with these charities but I will support any charity who ask me for help. I have worked with lots of local charities that are only small and that you probably haven’t heard of but still need help.

Q. How many jobs have you had?

All the jobs I have had have been around football – I have been a football player, a football manager and am now a football pundit. I did have a paper round as a young boy!

Q. How many red cards did you get as a player?

I didn’t get any red cards and only ever got 2 yellow cards over my whole career.

Q. How did you feel when fans shouted racist abuse at you?

It didn’t affect me. I knew I was the same as anyone else, I knew I was as good any anybody else and as moral and worthy as anybody else. I used to ignore it. It’s a bit like bullying and you are lucky these days as are footballers because if you get bullied or racist abuse is shouted at footballers, it’s dealt with, for example the referee can stop the game but years ago it wasn’t and you were just expected to ignore it so I did. With bullying in school, your school will not let it happen and this is right.

Q. Do you know any female footballers and what do you think of them?

Yes I do, I was at a match the other week and there was a female German footballer there who I was talking to. She plays left back for Liverpool. It used to be that boys and girls couldn’t play each others sports like football and hockey but now it is fantastic because we can and girls are becoming professional footballers. I think it’s important that we provide opportunities for everyone. England are a bit behind other countries with women’s football but we’re getting there.

Q. Who is your favourite player that you have played with?

Too many to mention, all of the team I played with at Liverpool. I played alongside great legends like Ian Rush, Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalgleish but you have to appreciate the whole team because they were what made the team so successful.

Q. Who is your favourite player playing today?

There are 2 world class players at the moment – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and there is very little between them in terms of footballing ability. However I would always say Messi is the better player because he is more of a team player. When he scores a goal, he celebrates with his teammates whereas Ronaldo scores and celebrates by himself. Messi has respect for his team and is humble. When he is given a bad pass by a team mate he doesn’t berate them but just gets on with it.

Q. Have you ever had a serious injury?

Only one and I was out for 7 months. It’s part of the game.

Q. How did you enjoy Strictly Come Dancing and what do you prefer, football or dancing?

I needed to get fit and lose weight and thought Strictly would help. It was far more difficult than playing football as I was used to playing football and not used to dancing! It was enjoyable but hard hard work and I had to be disciplines. I had to learn a new dance every week and that was very hard!

Q. What do you do to keep fit and healthy?

(John laughs and looks at his stomach!) What I should do is eat healthily and exercise. I find it difficult to run now at my age and have bad knees so instead I do lots of swimming and walking. The important thing is to eat healthily though as children naturally get exercise with all the running round you do. You should only have KFC or McDonalds as a treat. Good nutrition is so important.

Q. Have you ever played in a World Cup and what was your highlight?

I’ve played in 2 world cups, the first one we got to the quarter finals and the 2nd one we got to the semis but the first world cup is always special. In 1986 in the quarter finals against Argentina, I was on the bench and for the whole World Cup was in the squad but hadn’t played any part in it. We were 2-0 down and the boss said I could go on for the last 15 mins. It was the greatest honour playing on the same field as Diego Maradona as he was my hero and it meant more than anything.