Liverpool FC legend John Barnes to visit Kenya next week

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John Barnes in Kenya
John Barnes is visiting Kenya next week.

Anfield legend John Barnes will be in Kenya next week to oversee the fourth Standard Chartered Road to Anfield tournament scheduled for February 27 at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.

While in the country during his three-day tour, the former Jamaican born England star will run coaching clinics to youth team coaches and a training session for under-14 players.

“We have selected majority of the children and coaches from our Goal Corporate Social Responsibility programme which is designed to empower adolescent girls across the country.” – Lamin Manjang, Standard Chartered Bank CEO

John Barnes in Norway
John Barnes meets fans in Norway (2012). Photo: Sjur Bjørkly

52 year old Barnes, who is currently a pundit for ESPN and SuperSport, was signed by Watford from Middlesex League club Sudbury Court for the fee of a full football kit. He made his first professional appearance at 17 as a substitute in a 1-1 Second Division (now called the Championship) draw against Oldham Athletic. During his career at the Hornets, he scored 65 goals in 233 appearances.

Barnes left Watford on 9 June 1987 in a £900,000 deal to join Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool forming one of the most formidable attacking lines in Liverpool history alongside Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge, Ian Rush and Ray Houghton.

Before joining the Anfield club, Sir Alex Ferguson had been given the opportunity to sign Barnes for Manchester United which he turned down. He admitted regretting this decision in his autobiography Managing My Life in 1999.

Barnes made his Liverpool 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 while 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.

As well as impressing on the pitch, Barnes was a key contributor and indeed performer on the Anfield Rap for the club’s traditional Cup final song which reached Number 3 in the UK charts. He would later go on to rap on the New Order England World Cup song World In Motion.

During his Liverpool career, he made 314 appearances, scoring 84 goals.

In 1997, he left Merseyside to join fellow former Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish who was managing Newcastle United where he scored six goals in 27 appearances before ending his professional career at Charlton Athletic in 1999 where he made 12 appearances.

As well as a successful club career, he made 79 appearances for England, scoring 11 goals and has managed Celtic, Jamaica and Tranmere Rovers.

Twice in his career, Barnes was voted Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

He is widely regarded as among the most talented players to wear an England shirt and 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)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, Ian Rush, Steven Gerrard and Kenny Dalglish.

“Players like John Barnes come along just once in a lifetime.”

– Sir Tom Finney, England and Preston North End legend

In his post football career, he competed in the fifth BBC series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 where his dance partner was Nicole Cutler. They finished in seventh place but he was the first male celebrity to receive a ten from the judges, for his salsa.

John Barnes and Nicole Cutler
John Barnes and Nicole Cutler in Strictly Come Dancing 2009.

He also appeared as himself in an episode of the BBC’s school-based drama Waterloo Road and an episode of genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?

John Barnes in Waterloo Road
John Barnes in Waterloo Road

Standard Chartered Road to Anfield

The Standard Chartered Road to Anfield competition began after the bank signed a sponsorship deal with Liverpool in 2009 and sees twenty four teams competing for a place in the annual 5-a-side knock out competition at Anfield.

The winning team wins a four day fully paid for trip to the UK in April where they will represent Kenya at the Standard Chartered Trophy Finals which will be played at Liverpool’s iconic stadium.

They will also join supporters for a Premier League match and experience a professional training session with Liverpool FC legends and coaches to prepare them for the final tournament.

“Through this ongoing partnership with Liverpool FC, we are able to offer exclusive and exciting opportunities. This is a once-in-a-life-time experience for any football fan and we are delighted to be giving our clients and the media the opportunity to visit Anfield.” – Lamin Manjang, Standard Chartered Bank CEO

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