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John Barnes

Former professional footballer

John Barnes

John Barnes is a former professional footballer who is regarded as one of Liverpool and England’s greatest-ever players. A skilful winger who was a star of the 80s and 90s, during his hugely successful career he won two league titles, two FA Cups and one League Cup. He also earned a variety of individual awards including being named PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1988. John’s great sense of humour and charismatic speaking style makes him a hit at every event he attends.

Having moved to the UK from Jamaica in his youth, John’s football career began at Watford when he was noticed playing as a teenager. The Hornets gave him his debut as a 17-year-old in 1981, and he quickly became one of the club’s key players under the mentorship of Graham Taylor. In 1984 John helped Watford to the FA Cup final where they, unfortunately, lost to Everton, but he had made his mark on the game, catching the attention of some of England’s biggest names.

In 1987 he signed for Liverpool, at the time the country’s best team. With Kenny Dalglish as manager, John thrived in the team and helped the Reds win countless trophies. At his after-dinner speaking events, John can discuss what it was like playing alongside the likes of Ian Rush, John Aldridge and Dalglish himself who was player-manager. In total, John spent a decade at Liverpool, playing more than 400 times for the Merseyside club and is regarded as one of the club’s greatest-ever players.

John also made his mark on the international stage, playing 79 times for England including at two World Cups and the 1988 European Championships. His career ended with spells at Newcastle and Charlton, and as one of the most recognisable football speakers in the country, fans of all clubs are sure to enjoy his events thanks to his fascinating anecdotes from his career.

Throughout his career, John suffered from racism from fans. In fact, the image of a banana being thrown at John in a racist incident during the 1980s has become iconic. As one of the industry’s most captivating football speakers, in recent years John has become one of the most ardent anti-racism campaigners within the game and can discuss the issue at every event he attends. As someone who suffered racism first-hand while on the football pitch (even by England fans when he was representing his country), he can truly offer a unique perspective on the issue that still affects the game today.

In October 2021 John released the book – John Barnes: The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism to wide acclaim.

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