Thursday, 10 October 2013

Liverpool FC book extract: John Barnes on why England's long-ball football ... -

"I grew up in a middle-class family and I had no self-esteem issues at all. For someone to call me a black this or that doesn't make any sense to me. I consider people who use those words as ignorant. Why should I let it affect me when it doesn't?"

Barnes joined the club around the same time as Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge; the trio 'clicked' instantly. "That was the genius of Liverpool: recognising how a group of players that hadn't been in the same side could come together and gel instantly. We weren't coached into being good. Personally, Peter was crucial to my success because we clicked straight away.

"Whenever he got the ball, he would look for me first and allow me to sprint off. Of everyone I played with, I would have to say that Peter was the one I enjoyed playing with most. He was different from everyone else in that he didn't drink. He'd collect the bibs, cones and balls after training had finished.

"Initially, there might have been a feeling that Peter was sucking up to the manager, being a bit of a creep, and there were a few snide remarks. But, gradually, people realised that was just his manner. He was a worker and unselfish – just as he was on the pitch. At Watford, I'd trained 100 per cent all of the time. But at Liverpool, they were 'Hey – take it easy, slow down!'

"Kenny just played five-a-side with us and didn't do much else, especially coaching. Players were left to develop alone – a natural evolution. Nobody really analysed tactics from a method point of view. The first team to come along and do it was George Graham with Arsenal. And they won the league. He was a pioneer in this country in many ways."

Grobbelaar on death threats, Heysel and Anfield's high standards

John Wark on playing with Pele and Sly Stallone in Escape To Victory

Simon Hughes' Red Machine: Liverpool in the 1980s, the Players' Stories is released on Thursday October 10 by Mainstream Publishing.

Further extracts - exclusive interviews with John Wark and Howard Gayle - will appear on Telegraph Sport today.

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