How good was John Barnes's Top 50: The Best English Players - John Barnes (38) has compiled a list of the best English players of all time. In 38th place is John Barnes, the Caribbean-born player not only celebrated successes, but also often had to assert himself against discrimination ...

From Sebastian HEIER

50th place: John Terry
49th place: Tony Currie
48th place: Terry Butcher
47th place: Gerry Hitchens
46th place: Paul Ince
45th place: George Camsell
44th place: Wayne Rooney
43rd place: Jackie Milburn
42nd place: Roger Hunt
41st place: Rio Ferdinand
40th place: Wilf Mannion
39th place: Frank Lampard

When you think of English football from the 1980s, the name John Barnes might not come to mind that quickly. An undisputed superstar in the middle of the country's dark days. On and off the pitch, Barnes was not only feared by his opponents, but also a victim of public, racial discrimination.

Born in Jamaica, Barnes moved to England with his family as a child. It was there that he made his first footballing experience in the north-west of London. In 1981 he signed a contract with Watford FC after showing a good performance in a friendly with the reserve team. He was allowed to leave his youth club, Sudbury Court, for a transfer fee in the form of a set of soccer jerseys, shorts and socks.

The quick promotion at Watford FC

On Vicarage Road, Barnes arrived at the age of 17. The club that Elton John owned led Barnes to great success, including promotion in his first year. In his first season he also scored 13 goals in 36 games. His rapid career growth continued in the following years. After the second place and the runner-up behind Liverpool FC in the 1982-83 season, the FA Cup final was reached in 1984. However, this was lost 2-0 to Everton. Barnes was a great success point in the rise of Watford FC.

Barnes is celebrated

During this time he was also called up for the English national team for the first time. Under coach Bobby Robson, he made his debut in 1983 in the dress of the Three Lions against Northern Ireland. His career reached a temporary high point on June 10, 1984. An extraordinary goal against Brazil in a friendly match at the MaracanĂ£ Stadium in Rio de Janeiro brought him worldwide fame. Barnes was celebrated in the local press and his goal was named the best goal in Three Lions history.

Two world championships and no success

At the 1986 World Cup, Barnes only made a brief appearance in the quarter-finals against Argentina, but with an assist and a good game he convinced, despite the elimination. Barnes was also in the squad for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but an injury ultimately prevented him from playing in the semi-final defeat against Germany. On September 6, 1995, his national team career ended in a 0-0 draw against Colombia.

Racism and hatred

In 1987 Barnes signed a new contract with Liverpool FC. There he had to accept the racist abuse from the right-wing extremist fan camp. He was also threatened by racist groups in the English national team.

Career comes to an end

In 1996 he celebrated reaching the FA Cup final again and a year later winning the runner-up, with these successes Barnes said goodbye to Liverpool. In 1997 he signed a new contract with Newcastle United. After seven goals in 41 games, he continued his career at Charlton Athletic and later, with disappointing success, tried his hand at Celtic Glasgow as director of sport. There he was released early in 2000.


Born: 7/11/1963, Kingston (Jamaica)
Operations in the national team: 79/11 goals
Societies: Watford FC, Liverpool FC, Newcastle United, Charlton Athletic


English League Cup (1987-88, 1989-90)
FA Cup (1988-89, 1991-92)
Football League Cup (1994-95)
Charity Shield (1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91)

PFA Player of the Year (1987-88)
FWA Footballer of the Year (1987-88, 1989-90)
English Football Hall of Fame (2005)

ALREADY KNEW …, that John Barnes rapped on New Order's UK number 1 hit, the soccer anthem "World In Motion"?