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John Barnes (footballer)

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Title: John Barnes (footballer)  
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Subject: 1997–98 Newcastle United F.C. season, Gary Lineker, David Platt (footballer), Kenny Dalglish, Trevor Steven
Collection: 1963 Births, 1986 Fifa World Cup Players, 1990 Fifa World Cup Players, Association Football Wingers, Black English Sportspeople, British Association Football Commentators, Celtic F.C. Managers, Charlton Athletic F.C. Players, England International Footballers, England Under-21 International Footballers, English Football Hall of Fame Inductees, English Football Managers, English Footballers, English People of Jamaican Descent, English People of Trinidad and Tobago Descent, Expatriate Football Managers in Jamaica, Jamaica National Football Team Managers, Jamaican Emigrants to the United Kingdom, Liverpool F.C. Players, Living People, Members of the Order of the British Empire, Musicians from Liverpool, Naturalised Citizens of the United Kingdom, Newcastle United F.C. Players, Premier League Players, Scottish Premier League Managers, Strictly Come Dancing Participants, The Football League Players, Uefa Euro 1988 Players, Watford F.C. Players
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

John Barnes (footballer)

John Barnes
Barnes in 2012
Personal information
Full name John Charles Bryan Barnes
Date of birth (1963-11-07) 7 November 1963
Place of birth Kingston, Jamaica
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Left winger
Youth career
Stowe Boys Club
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1980–1981 Sudbury Court ? (?)
1981–1987 Watford 233 (65)
1987–1997 Liverpool 314 (84)
1997–1999 Newcastle United 27 (6)
1999 Charlton Athletic 12 (0)
Total 586 (165)
National team
1982–1983 England U21 3 (0)
1983–1995[1] England 79 (11)
Teams managed
1999–2000 Celtic
2008–2009 Jamaica
2009 Tranmere Rovers

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

John Charles Bryan Barnes MBE (born 7 November 1963) is an English former footballer, rapper and manager of Jamaican and Trinidadian origin, who currently works as a commentator and pundit for ESPN[2] and SuperSport. A fast, skilful left wing player, Barnes had successful periods at Watford and Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s, and played for the England national team on 79 occasions. In 2006, in a poll of Liverpool fans' favourite players, Barnes came fifth; a year later FourFourTwo magazine named him Liverpool's best player of all time.

Born and initially raised in Jamaica, the son of a military officer from Trinidad, Barnes moved to London with his family when he was 12 years old. He joined Watford at the age of 17 in 1981 and over the next six years made 296 appearances for the club, scoring 85 goals. He made his debut for England in 1983 and four years later joined Liverpool for £900,000. Between 1987 and 1997 Barnes won the then top-flight First Division twice and the FA Cup twice with Liverpool, scoring 106 goals in 403 matches. By the time of his last appearance for England in 1995 he had been capped 79 times—then a record for a black player. After two years with Newcastle United, he ended his playing career at Charlton Athletic in 1999.

Barnes moved to Scotland to become head coach of Celtic in 1999 with his former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish as director of football. This was not successful and Barnes was sacked in 2000. Since then Barnes has managed the Jamaica national team in 2008–09 and the English club Tranmere Rovers for four months in 2009.

During his playing career Barnes was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice (in 1987–88 and 1989–90) and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year once (in 1987–88). In the run-up to England's 1990 FIFA World Cup campaign he recorded a rap for the official team song, New Order's "World in Motion". In 2005 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.


  • Early life 1
  • Club career 2
    • Watford 2.1
    • Liverpool 2.2
    • Newcastle United 2.3
    • Charlton Athletic 2.4
  • International career 3
  • Managerial career 4
    • Celtic 4.1
    • Jamaica 4.2
    • Tranmere Rovers 4.3
  • Accolades 5
  • Career statistics 6
    • As a player 6.1
    • As a manager 6.2
    • International goals 6.3
  • Honours 7
    • As player 7.1
    • As manager 7.2
    • Individual 7.3
  • Music career 8
  • Personal life 9
  • Media and charity work 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Barnes was born in Jamaica, to Roderick Kenrick "Ken" Barnes (born 23 August 1935) a Trinidadian and Frances Jeanne Hill a Jamaican.[3] Barnes spent his early childhood living in Jamaica's biggest military base[4] (his father served in the West India Regiment and later the Jamaica Defence Force after Jamaica's independence) where he would play football and live a disciplined life. His father was heavily interested in sport and was president of the Jamaica Amateur Swimming Association and later formed Jamaica's first bobsleigh team.[3] Barnes' father was a huge squash and football fan who encouraged his son to pursue sports, having named him after legendary Welsh footballer John Charles.[5] Ken Barnes, who was promoted to Colonel in 1973,[3] was appointed Defence adviser to the High Commission of Jamaica, London (1976-1981)[3] and Barnes moved to London with his family in January 1976[6] when he was 12 years old. The young teenager attended the Rugby playing St Marylebone Grammar School[7] followed by a short stint at Haverstock School, Camden Town.[7][8] While at school he played four years of youth football at the Stowe Boys Club in Paddington.[7][9]

Club career


Barnes was noticed by Watford while playing for Middlesex League club Sudbury Court.[10] After a successful trial game in Watford's reserves, Barnes was signed on 14 July 1981 for the fee of a set of kit.

Barnes made his debut at 17 as a sub on 5 September 1981 in a 1–1 draw with Oldham Athletic in the Football League Second Division at Vicarage Road. The club's manager at the time was Graham Taylor, and Watford were eight months away from completing their six-year rise from the Fourth Division to the First.

Barnes and Watford gained promotion, as runners-up to fierce rivals Luton Town, to the top flight of English football at the end of the 1981–82 season and went on to finish as runners-up for the League title,[11] coincidentally, to Liverpool the following season. Watford then made the 1984 FA Cup Final, where, as under-dogs, they were beaten 2–0 by Everton.[12] Watford would go on to reach the FA Cup semi-final again in 1987 only to lose to Tottenham Hotspur. Barnes was by this point becoming restless and speculation was mounting in the newspapers as to which big club would sign him.


Barnes left Watford on 9 June 1987 in a £900,000 deal to join Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool, after making 233 League appearances for the Hornets and scoring 65 goals. He joined at the same time as England team-mate Peter Beardsley and linked up with new signings John Aldridge and Ray Houghton to form one of the most formidable attacking lines of Liverpool's history, which was completed a year later when Ian Rush re-signed for Liverpool.

Just before Barnes left Watford, manager Graham Taylor had departed to Aston Villa to be succeeded by Dave Bassett, who had resigned himself to losing Barnes to a bigger club. He offered Alex Ferguson the chance to sign Barnes for Manchester United, but Ferguson rejected the opportunity to sign Barnes as he still had faith in United's left winger Jesper Olsen. This was revealed in Ferguson's autobiography Managing My Life in 1999. Ferguson has since expressed regret at not signing Barnes.[13]

Barnes made his debut for the Reds, along with Beardsley, on 15 August 1987 in the 2–1 league win over Arsenal at Highbury. In 9 minutes Barnes and Beardsley combined to set up Aldridge for a goal. Barnes' first strike for the club came a month later on 12 September as the Reds beat Oxford United 2–0 at Anfield.

In his first season at Anfield, Liverpool coasted to the League title, remaining undefeated for the first 29 games of the season and ending up with just two defeats. However, the double was surprisingly thwarted by Wimbledon who beat the champions 1–0 in the FA Cup final. Barnes was a key contributor and indeed performer on the Anfield Rap; a rap on the club's traditional Cup final song. It reached Number 3 in the UK charts.

During that season, Barnes was racially abused by a section of Everton supporters in the Merseyside derby at Anfield, which led to Everton chairman Philip Carter disowning the offending supporters, branding them "scum". This was not the first time that Barnes had suffered racial abuse from fans of rival clubs, as he had been regularly barracked by fans of other teams when still playing for Watford.[14]

Barnes scored 15 league goals in his first season at Anfield, second only to John Aldridge at the club. He was voted overwhelmingly PFA Player of the Year. He also collected a league title medal, as Liverpool finished champions with just two league defeats all season. In particular Barnes, Beardsley, Houghton and Aldridge were instrumental in Liverpool's 5–0 win over Nottingham Forest on 13 April 1988, a game which Tom Finney described as "the finest exhibition I’ve seen the whole time I’ve played and watched the game. You couldn’t see it bettered anywhere, not even in Brazil."[15] Team mate Aldridge said in his autobiography that Bobby Robson had at the time claimed Barnes was as good as George Best at his peak with Manchester United 20 years earlier.

The following two seasons brought further success. Liverpool won the FA Cup with a 3–2 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton, with Barnes creating goals from the left wing for Ian Rush, and was instrumental during the extra time period. They lost the title to Arsenal with seconds remaining. Barnes played the whole of the title decider at Anfield, with the move resulting in Michael Thomas' goal occurring immediately after Barnes had lost possession of the ball attempting to dribble past Kevin Richardson in the last moments of the game.

In April 1989, after the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, Barnes attended several funerals and visited the injured in hospital. He pulled out of an England international friendly in order to fulfil these public duties.[16]

Barnes, in his early years at Liverpool, had to deal with racist abuse from opposing supporters and far-right groups – a photograph was once taken of Barnes, in full Liverpool kit and mid-match, casually backheeling away a banana which had been hurled at him during a derby match with Everton at Goodison Park.[17] He also claimed Liverpool supporters had written to him not to join the club, as well as being abused by opposition players. On occasion he overheard a team mate make a racist remark towards other black players in opposition teams. On one of his first times at Anfield, Barnes claimed that the tea lady had, intentionally or unintentionally served all the players in the lounge tea except from him and he made a joke about it by asking light heartedly "Is it because I'm black?"[18] At the time, he was only the second black player to play for Liverpool, and the first to have been a regular player. The only other black player to have appeared for Liverpool at the time was Howard Gayle, who played a mere five games for the Reds at the beginning of the 1980s.

Barnes played in the 1990 title winning side at Liverpool and scored 22 league goals from the left wing – his personal best for the club. Ian Rush scored four fewer league goals than Barnes. Barnes was voted Football Writer's Player of the Year, and expectations from England manager Bobby Robson were also high, seeing Barnes as a key component in the buildup to Italia 90. Team mate Peter Beardsley has since said Barnes at the end of the 1980s was "The best player I ever played with, bar none. For three or four years at the end of the ’80s, John was possibly the best player in the world."[19]

Barnes continued to play for Liverpool and England. In 1990–91 he scored 16 league goals, though the title slipped from Liverpool's grasp to that of Arsenal following the sudden resignation of Kenny Dalglish and the appointment of Graeme Souness as manager.

In 1992, Liverpool won the FA Cup again but Barnes missed the final with an Achilles tendon injury, which he later cited in his autobiography as dulling his acceleration, affecting his ability to push off from a still position, while not affecting his pace at full.[18] He played just 12 league games in the 1991–92, scoring once, as Liverpool finished sixth in the league – their lowest finish in two decades and the first time since 1981 that they had failed to finish champions or runners-up. Barnes and several other senior players had frosty relationships with Souness during this period as the manager tried to impose new methods quickly, and many senior pros resented his hard discipline approach as well as the increased pressure in training.[20] Barnes also once had to make a public apology to Souness after he gave an interview criticising the tactics employed by the manager before an important match.[21] Young team mate Robbie Fowler also said in his autobiography that Souness felt at the time Barnes was past his best, but in Fowler's (and others') opinion he still had a lot to offer and was still one of the most talented players at the club.[22]

Liverpool had qualified for the 1991-92 UEFA Cup, being readmitted to European competitions a year after the ban on all other English clubs in European competitions since the Heysel disaster in 1985 had been lifted. This was the first time Barnes had played in European competitions since Watford's 1983-84 UEFA Cup campaign.

Souness later stated in his autobiography that Barnes due to his injuries was now taking a "less demanding" central midfield playmaker's role as opposed to a winger with a goalscoring touch. Despite the effects of the injuries, Barnes was still regarded as one of club and country's best players and Souness noted that Barnes "Retained his quality on the ball, using it well and rarely losing possession".[20] Mark Walters who had been highly effective for Souness at Glasgow Rangers had been purchased as cover/competition for Barnes but failed to displace him.

By the mid-1990s, Barnes knew he was reaching the veteran stage of his playing career and looked to make up for the underachievement at international level with his club side, who had begun to bear the fruits of Souness's youth policy. He publicly stated that he would stay at Liverpool and help bring through young talent that needed his leadership instead of leaving the club as it went through turbulent years under Graeme Souness, before Roy Evans took over at the helm in January 1994. His improved form in the 1994–95 season saw him earn a recall to the England team and he scored 7 league goals (9 in all competitions) despite being now principally a central midfielder.

Under Evans, Barnes and young players like Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Fowler (who had been given their debuts by either Dalglish or Souness) began playing attractive, attacking football, and were starting to look like title contenders again after several years of dominance in the title race by Manchester United as well as the likes of Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. They won the League Cup in 1995, began challenging for the FA Premier League title, and lost the 1996 FA Cup Final to Manchester United. Barnes had now been converted into a holding midfielder where he, Redknapp and McManaman would pass their way through teams and set up goals. He often captained the side in 1995–96 when regular captain Ian Rush lost his place to new signing Stan Collymore, and when Rush departed to Leeds United at the end of the season he became full-time captain. Barnes played a pivotal role in the midfield, and created the final goal after a dribble and passing movement for Stan Collymoore during Liverpool's 4–3 win at Anfield against Newcastle. A young Jamie Carragher was breaking through into the team towards the end of Barnes's career at Liverpool and said that despite Barnes supposedly being past his peak by then, in his 34th year, he was still the best player at the club. "Technically, he’s the best player I've ever trained or played with, he was great with both feet, they were both exactly the same. I'd say he's the best finisher I've ever played with (including Torres, Fowler, Owen). Barnes never used to blast his shots – they’d just get placed right in the corner. You speak with the players from those great Liverpool sides and ask them who the best player they played with was and they all say John Barnes".[23]

On 13 August 1997, after 10 years, 407 appearances, 108 goals and four major trophies, Barnes left on a free transfer. He had missed just three Premier League games in his final season at Anfield, scoring four goals (including a memorable late winner against Southampton just after Christmas) as they had led the table for much of the first half of the season before being overhauled by eventual champions Manchester United at the end of January and having to settle for a fourth-place finish. Paul Ince, a slightly younger central midfielder with a completely contrasting combative style was signed to replace him in the middle of the park and Barnes felt signing a player like Ince may not solve all of Liverpool's problems.[18]

Newcastle United

Barnes was then snapped up by former team-mate and manager Kenny Dalglish, who was managing Newcastle United, although an approach had already been made by Harry Redknapp of West Ham; Barnes had agreed in principle to join them until at the final moment Dalglish called him and Barnes changed his mind. In the 1997–98 season Barnes played up front mostly, deputising for Alan Shearer after Shearer was injured for most of the season, and Barnes ended up Newcastle's top league scorer with six goals, which highlighted the Magpie's lack of ability to score in the absence of Shearer and Ferdinand (who had been sold along with Beardsley). Former Liverpool colleague Ian Rush and England colleague Stuart Pearce were also drafted in around this time. Pearce has since stated in his autobiography, "Psycho", that he felt Barnes was overweight by the time he joined Newcastle and that both Barnes and Rush had less desire than himself to win at that stage in their careers as they had already won everything, and that they could have had more of an edge to them.[24] Although Newcastle (the previous season's Premier League runners-up) endured a disappointing league campaign and finished 13th, they did reach the 1998 FA Cup Final, and Barnes went onto the field for the fifth FA Cup final of his career. However, Newcastle lost 2–0 to Arsenal, and following the sacking of Dalglish early in the 1998–99 season, he was left isolated and shunned along with a number of Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan era players including Rob Lee and Stuart Pearce. Barnes with many others was dropped from the first team by new manager Ruud Gullit and spent several months in the reserves despite, in his opinion, "excelling in training" and showing he had lost none of his quality if some of his pace. He felt that himself and others were deliberately being cold shouldered to make it known Gullit wanted his own players in; Barnes had actually worked briefly with Gullit during the 1998 World Cup ITV commentary team, and they had played numerous international matches played against each other in the 1980s and 1990s, but they were not friends. Barnes knew it was the last straw when even his MBE from the Queen was overlooked by Gullit after a presentation had been given to Stuart Pearce for receiving one – this was in the winter of 1998 and he knew he was unwanted.[18] Barnes left the club on a free transfer to newly promoted Charlton on 10 February 1999.

Charlton Athletic

Barnes made his debut for Charlton on 13 February 1999, coming on as a substitute in a 1–0 home win over Liverpool.[25] He made a further 11 league appearances that season, mostly as a substitute, and did not score any goals.[25] Defeat on the final day of the season relegated the Addicks back to Division One, and Barnes announced his retirement as a player after 20 years.

International career

Although born in Jamaica, Barnes had no intention of representing Jamaica at international level as the "Reggae Boyz had not yet made a significant mark on world football and he was eager to get to the game's biggest stage".[26]

At the time of Barnes' international career, FIFA's national team eligibility criteria allowed British passport holders to represent one of the British football associations if they had no blood ties to the United Kingdom. In 1983, while still a Watford player, Barnes was approached by the Scottish Football Association who wanted him to represent Scotland.[27] Barnes had already planned to represent England where he had lived since the age of 12.[28] Barnes said: "the only reason I played for England was because they were the first to ask...if Scotland had asked [first]...You go and play for Scotland."[26]

Barnes was given his England debut by Bobby Robson on 28 May 1983, when he came on as a second-half replacement for Watford team-mate Luther Blissett as England drew 0–0 with Northern Ireland in a British Championship match at Windsor Park, Belfast.[29] He and Blissett were among the first black footballers to be full England internationals.

On 10 June 1984 Barnes scored a goal against Brazil, when he outpaced and out-thought several Brazilian defenders before rounding Roberto Costa and slotting the ball into an empty net during a friendly match at the Estádio do Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The goal brought him worldwide fame but also a sense of heavy expectation.[30]

It was after the World Cup that Barnes became a British passport holder. Speaking in 2008, Barnes said "I don't even know if the English F.A. didn't know that I wasn't born there and wasn't brought up there...maybe I played (for England) illegally, right?"[26]

In his early England days, he and fellow black player Mark Chamberlain were subjected to threats from racist groups. Notably, Barnes was abused by supporters of the National Front on the plane back from South America in June 1984; the racists claimed that England had only won 1–0 against Brazil because Barnes' goal "didn't count".

Bobby Robson did not use Barnes at the 1986 World Cup until the quarter final against Argentina when England were trailing 2–0 with 15 minutes to go.[29] (BBC commentator Barry Davies famously shouted: "Go on! Run at them!" when Barnes was given the ball), setting up one goal for Gary Lineker and laying on another chance which Lineker missed. England went out of the competition, but Barnes had been recognised for his contribution in the game and many questioned why Barnes had not been playing at the start or in previous matches. He then went on to be a regular starter for his country at both the 1988 European Championships and the 1990 World Cup.[29]

Barnes was later described by Bobby Robson as being part of "The best front four in Europe" – The others being Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley, and Chris Waddle. Despite high expectations, like many others he flopped at the 1988 European Championships; he received the ball irregularly stuck wide on the left, and England suffered some shock defeats. However, Robson stayed in his job and kept faith in his favoured front four.

He pulled out of England's first international game after the Hillsborough disaster due to the grief he felt at the time.[31] In his absence, England won the World Cup qualifying game against Albania 5–0 at Wembley on 26 April 1989.[32]

In the lead up to the World Cup Barnes was played several times as a striker alongside Gary Lineker, and in a warm up match against Uruguay played well and scored an excellent half volley from a Stuart Pearce cross. Great things were expected of Barnes at World Cup.

At the World Cup he sustained a groin injury against Belgium shortly after having a magnificent volleyed goal wrongly disallowed for offside. England went out to Germany on penalties in the semi-final. Barnes had again supplied a rap for a tie-in song, "World in Motion" by New Order, which was a UK Number 1 and is still regarded by many as the best football song ever made.

He missed the 1992 European Championships due to injury, which had cost him most of the 1991-92 season and kept him out of Liverpool's FA Cup winning side. In his absence, England failed to progress beyond the group stages of the competition.

Under Graham Taylor, many speculated his old mentor and manager at Watford would be able to get the best out of him, but his form was to become even less consistent; although this may have partly been down to the decline of English football as a whole during this period. In Graham Taylor's first match as England Manager (against Hungary), Barnes had appeared to be attacking positively and beating players and using the ball well. This was a false dawn however and throughout a difficult time for the England squad, Barnes had few other highlights with the exception of scoring a stunning free kick against the Netherlands in a 1994 World Cup qualifying match.

In a 1994 World Cup qualifying game against San Marino, Barnes was booed by an entire section of England supporters at Wembley after a poor performance by the whole team. Barnes later believed an article attributed to Jimmy Greaves which had appeared in the Daily Mirror in which his loyalty to England was questioned - citing his supposed support for the West Indies cricket team, had helped influence the booing in the crowd.[18]

Barnes continued his international career into the mid-1990s. He earned a surprise recall in 1994 after improved form for Liverpool under Terry Venables, and was in the squad in the run up to Euro '96 although failed to make the final squad for the tournament despite England not having an established left sided alternative.

England's former most capped black player won 79 caps and scored 11 goals, but compared to his club form, he was never seen as a player who peaked when wearing an England shirt. Bobby Robson famously described him as the "Greatest enigma" of his career; whilst including him for his all time dream team England squad of all the players he had picked as manager in his 1990 book "Against All Odds" (placing him on the bench), he was baffled at Barnes's inconsistency. He described Barnes as being a player of "the highest calibre" but sometimes being unable to reach for that bit extra when he or Captain Bryan Robson shouted at him to take more players on.[18] Barnes himself has since said that he felt the systems played during his time as an England player were "rigid" and more focus was on speed, aggression, and attacking through the centre rather than a patient passing style of play. He also claimed that he could receive the ball as few as six or seven times throughout a match whereas at Liverpool he may receive it more than twenty times, and he had more freedom under Kenny Dalglish who did not ask him to stay on the left wing all the time. England also had a very different system to Liverpool at the time who were much more free-flowing, and later claimed that to have got the best out of him, they would have needed a similar system to the one used by Kenny Dalglish, which was never likely to happen. He also cited the case of Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle who he felt England were unable to get the best out of during this time.[18]

Newspapers at the time of his England career even queried whether his disciplinarian upbringing in Jamaica to a military family and rumoured beatings as a child from his parents had contributed to his underperformance as an England footballer.[18]

Tony Adams has also subsequently picked Barnes to be in his England dream team in his 1999 book Addicted, citing that Barnes "Could pass, move, dribble, had Brazilian style movement... what more could you want?" He also backed Barnes's claims that England at times used rigid systems.[33]

Nevertheless, he remained in the top ten most capped players list for eleven years until David Beckham and then Gary Neville edged him out from ninth to 11th.

After 12 years of international recognition Barnes won the last of his 79 caps on 6 September 1995 in the 0–0 friendly draw with Colombia at Wembley. The goalless friendly will always be remembered because of the eccentric Colombian goalkeeper René Higuita's 'Scorpion Kick.'

Managerial career


In a "dream ticket" style move, Barnes was appointed head coach of Celtic for the 1999–2000 season, working under Kenny Dalglish as director of football. After his appointment he later re-registered himself as a player but never played a competitive game for Celtic. This much-hyped appointment was unsuccessful, however, and included a shock Scottish Cup defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in February (which gave birth to the famous headline from The Sun: "Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious"). Barnes was sacked shortly afterwards, with Dalglish taking over first-team duties until the end of the season. Although Dalglish won the League Cup in the process, his contract was not renewed and the board decided to replace him with Martin O'Neill.


Barnes entered discussions with the Jamaica Football Federation in September 2008 regarding the possibility of him managing the Jamaica national team.[34] On 16 September 2008, Barnes was appointed as manager of Jamaica announcing Mike Commane as his assistant. Barnes guided his new Jamaican charges to a first-place finish in the 2008 Caribbean Championships, qualifying as the top Caribbean side for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In February 2009, Barnes told Sky Sports that he wanted to return to club management if the opportunity arose.[35] It was reported in May 2009 that Barnes contacted English League Two side Port Vale to see whether he could replace out-going manager Dean Glover.[36] Ultimately, though, the potential move to Port Vale did not happen. Instead, on 14 June 2009 he confirmed that he was to be appointed manager of League One side Tranmere Rovers.

Tranmere Rovers

Barnes was officially named as manager of Tranmere Rovers on 15 June 2009, with Jason McAteer assisting him.[37] He got off to a disastrous start, with Tranmere only winning three of their first fourteen games. During their time at Tranmere, Barnes and McAteer were allegedly dubbed "Dumb and Dumber" by the Tranmere players.[38] On 9 October 2009, Barnes was sacked by the club six days after a 5–0 defeat at Millwall and a run of just two wins from eleven league games.[39] He has since applied to become the manager of the Rwandan national team with Stephen Garside as his Youth Team Coach.[40]


Twice in his career, Barnes was voted Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year. He has also won the PFA Players' Player of the Year and is widely regarded as among the most talented players to wear an England shirt. Barnes was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his contribution to the English game.

The Liverpool fans adoration for "Digger" (he was nicknamed after the character Digger Barnes in the American soap opera Dallas)[41] was emphasised when he finished in the top 5 of the poll 100 Players Who Shook The Kop which was conducted by the official Liverpool Football Club web site in the summer of 2006. More than 110,000 supporters worldwide voted for their 10 favourite players of all time, Barnes finished 5th behind Robbie Fowler (4th), Ian Rush (3rd), Steven Gerrard (2nd) and the man that signed him three times (for Liverpool, Newcastle and Celtic) Kenny Dalglish (1st).[42]

He also appears frequently as a selection in Four Four Two magazine's Perfect XI, a choice in which current and former professional footballers select the best 11 players they have ever seen, played with or against, including selections by Michael Owen, Steve McManaman, Peter Beardsley, Ian Wright and Jamie Carragher.[43]

Tom Finney remarked on Barnes' talents that "Players like John Barnes come along just once in a lifetime."[44]

Career statistics

As a player

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1981–82 Watford Second Division 36 13 3 0 5 1 0 0 44 14
1982–83 First Division 42 10 4 1 3 0 4 2 53 13
1983–84 39 11 7 4 2 1 6 0 54 16
1984–85 40 12 2 0 5 3 0 0 47 15
1985–86 39 9 8 3 3 1 0 0 50 13
1986–87 37 10 7 3 3 1 1 0 48 14
1987–88 Liverpool 38 15 7 2 3 0 0 0 48 17
1988–89 33 8 6 3 3 2 0 0 42 13
1989–90 34 22 8 5 2 1 0 0 44 28
1990–91 35 16 7 1 2 0 0 0 44 17
1991–92 12 1 4 3 0 0 1 0 17 4
1992–93 FA Premier League 27 5 2 0 2 0 0 0 31 5
1993–94 26 3 2 0 2 0 0 0 30 3
1994–95 38 7 6 2 6 0 0 0 50 9
1995–96 36 3 7 0 3 0 4 0 50 3
1996–97 35 4 2 0 3 0 7 3 47 7
1997–98 Newcastle United 26 6 5 0 3 0 5 1 39 7
1998–99 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Charlton Athletic 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0
1999–2000 Celtic Scottish Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total England 586 155 87 27 50 10 28 6 781 198
Career total 586 155 87 27 50 10 28 6 781 198

As a manager

As of 6 September 2009.
Team Nation From To Matches Won Drawn Lost Win %
Celtic  Scotland 10 June 1999 10 February 2000 29 19 2 8 65.5%
Jamaica  Jamaica 16 September 2008 15 June 2009 11 7 4 0 63.6%[46]
Tranmere Rovers  England 15 June 2009 9 October 2009 12 3 1 8 25%

International goals

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.[47]
# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Scored
1 10 June 1984 Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  Brazil 2–0 Friendly 1
2, 3 14 November 1984 Besiktas Inonu Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey  Turkey 8–0 1986 World Cup qualifier 2
4, 5 14 October 1987 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Turkey 8–0 Euro 1988 qualifier 2
6 11 November 1987 Red Star Stadium, Belgrade, Yugoslavia  Yugoslavia 4–1 Euro 1988 qualifier 1
7 8 February 1989 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece  Greece 2–1 Friendly 1
8 8 March 1989 Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana, Albania  Albania 2-0 1990 World Cup qualifier 1
9 3 June 1989 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Poland 3–0 1990 World Cup qualifier 1
10 22 May 1990 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Uruguay 1-2 Friendly 1
11 28 April 1993 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Netherlands 2–2 1994 World Cup qualifier 1


As player


As manager



Music career

Barnes had success in music as well as football. He wrote and performed the rap section of New Order's "World in Motion" as well as appearing on the track "Anfield Rap", a Liverpool FC FA Cup Final song, rapping the lyrics "Liverpool FC is hard as hell/ United, Tottenham, Arsenal",[48] and performing lead rap in Liverpool's '96 cup final song Pass & Move (It's the Liverpool Groove).

World in motion reached #1 in the charts and spent 18 weeks in the UK top 75 (including re-releases in 2002 ad 2010). Anfield Rap reached #3 and spent 6 weeks in the top 75, and Pass & Move reached #4 and spent 4 weeks in the top 75.[49]

Personal life

Barnes was first married to and subsequently divorced Suzy and they have two sons and two daughters: Jamie, Jordan, Jemma and Jasmin. John's second wife is called Andrea and they have two daughters: Isabella and Tia, and a son: Alexander. With fellow former footballers Les Ferdinand and Luther Blissett, he has founded Team48 Motorsport, a team aiming to promote young racing drivers of Afro-Caribbean background. In 2008, the team entered the British Touring Car Championship, running Alfa Romeos for white Jamaican Matthew Gore and 18-year-old black Briton Darelle Wilson. A few days after being sacked by Tranmere, Barnes was declared bankrupt. He has described the bankruptcy as a technicality, saying "The bankruptcy issue is a tax oversight which is being dealt with."[50][51] Barnes' claims of the bankruptcy being a "tax oversight" proved true and the order was quickly overturned.[52]

Media and charity work

Barnes became a pundit on ITV and a presenter of the football coverage on Five as well as having his own weekly football discussion show on LFC TV called The John Barnes Show, every Thursday. He also worked as an ambassador for Save the Children. Barnes has appeared on several shows and media outlets to promote his charity work, including a notable appearance on Soccer AM in February 2009 performing the "World in Motion" rap and a parody of the mistimed advert by ITV in the previous week's Everton vs. Liverpool FA Cup tie, with Barnes' "Under-11 World Champion Baton-twirling" routine missed by mock commercials.[53][54][55]

Barnes competed in the fifth BBC series of Strictly Come Dancing which started in October 2007. His dance partner was Nicole Cutler. They finished in seventh place. He was also the first male celebrity to receive a ten from the judges, which he got for his salsa.

After an absence of nearly eight years, Barnes returned to football in late 2007. He agreed to run several coaching clinics across the Caribbean for young players with the possibility of them joining Premier League side Sunderland on trial.[56]

He made a guest appearance as himself in episode 10 of Series 6 of Waterloo Road that was aired on BBC One on Wednesday, 27 October 2010. He has been used as a pundit in ESPN's coverage of the FA Cup 2010, and in SuperSport's coverage of the UEFA Champions League 2010–2011, in South Africa.

He appeared on Russell Howard's Good News best bits show on Thursday, 15 December 2011, as his Mystery Guest. In the show he was dressed as Santa Claus and along with Russell Howard he performed his famous rap from New Order's "World in Motion".

On 17 October 2012, Barnes featured in series 9, episode 9 of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?.[57]

Recently, Barnes has been criticised by fans, though defended by the BBC and other media institutions, along with other unsuccessful managers like Paul Ince for claiming their lack of work is due to their race. This is in spite of other black managers like Chris Powell and Chris Hughton having sustained work in the football league. Barnes has suggested the American National Football League's controversial Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for coaching positions, should be adopted by the Premier League.[58]


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External links

  • Player profile at
  • John Barnes career statistics at Soccerbase
  • John Barnes England appearances at
  • John Barnes index at
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ian Rush
Liverpool captain
Succeeded by
Paul Ince
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