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John Charles Bryan Barnes MBE (born 7 November 1963 in Kingston, Jamaicamarker) is a Jamaicanmarker-born English football manager and former player. His most recent managerial post was at English League One club, Tranmere Rovers.

During his playing career, he had successful periods at Watford and Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s, winning the First Division twice, the FA Cup twice, and playing for England 79 times, then a record for a black player. He ended his playing career at Charlton Athletic in 1999.

After retiring as a player, he became Head-coach of Celtic for a short time, working alongside Kenny Dalglish. Barnes took over as manager of the Jamaica national team on 1 November 2008 but resigned six months later to take over at Tranmere. He was sacked by Tranmere on 9 October 2009 after a series of poor results.

Playing career

Club career


Having moved to England as a boy, Barnes was noticed by Watford whilst playing as a schoolboy for non-league Sudbury Court. After a successful game in Watford's reserves, Barnes was signed on the 14 July 1981 for the fee of a set of kit.

Barnes made his debut at 17 as a sub on the 5 September 1981 in a 1–1 draw with Oldham Athletic in the Football League Second Division at Vicarage Roadmarker. 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, 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. Watford would go on to reach the FA Cup semi-final again in 1987 only to lose to Tottenham Hotspur.


Barnes left Watford on 9 June 1987 in a £900,000 deal for Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool, after appearing 292 times for the Hornets and scoring 83 goals. He joined at the same time as England team-mate Peter Beardsley and linking up with John Aldridge and then Ian Rush to form one of the most formidable attacking lines of Liverpool's illustrious history.

Just before Barnes had departed from 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 had gone as far as offering 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.

Barnes made his debut for the Reds, along with Beardsley, on the 15 August 1987 in the 2–1 league win over Arsenal at Highburymarker, it took just 9 minutes for Barnes and Beardsley to show just what was in store for the Anfieldmarker faithful, as they combined to set up Aldridge for an excellent team goal. Barnes' first strike for the club came a month later on the 12 September as the Reds beat Oxford United 2–0 at Anfield, Aldridge had already scored against his former employers in the 13th minute before Barnes scored in the 37th minute to make the game safe.

In his first season at Anfield, Barnes was outstanding as Liverpool coasted to the League title, remaining undefeated for the first 29 games of the season and ending up with just two defeats, though again he would suffer FA Cup disappointment when Wimbledon surprisingly beat the champions 1-0 in the final. Barnes had performed a memorable (not necessarily for the right reasons) rap on the club's traditional Cup final song Anfield Rap, which got to Number 3 in the UK charts.

Barnes scored 15 league goals in his first season at Anfieldmarker, second only to John Aldridge at the club.

Barnes, like everyone else at Anfield, was given a nickname - Digger, after the Digger Barnes character in the popular TV series Dallas'. This has stuck with him and is still how the Liverpool fans affectionately refer to him.

The success and disappointment of the 1987–88 season was reversed a year later, with Liverpool winning the FA Cup with a 3–2 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton, with Barnes instrumental during the extra time period, but losing the title to Arsenal with literally seconds remaining. In April 1989, after the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, Barnes was among many Liverpool stars left distraught by the tragedy, attending several funerals and visiting the injured in hospital.

Barnes, in his early years at Liverpool, was having to deal with racist abuse from opposing supporters and far-right groups — a famous 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.

Barnes played in the 1990 title winning side at Liverpool and scored an amazing 22 league goals from the left wing - his personal best for the club. Liverpool striking legend, and colleague, Ian Rush also had a great season but managed 4 fewer league goals than Barnes, putting into a larger context just how prolific and important Barnes was to Liverpool at the time.

Barnes continued to play for Liverpool and England, and started the 1990–91 season in scintillating form, despite frequent barracking from opposition fans who were frustrated with his lack of product in an England shirt. His response was frightening though as the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester United, Wimbledon FC and Leeds United found out as Barnes scored spectacular goal after goal for the Liverpool cause. He still managed 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. 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.

It was also during this pre-season (in 1992) where constant injuries would eventually take their toll and rob Barnes of the lightning acceleration and pace that was once his hallmark.

By the mid-1990s, Barnes knew he was facing the end of his playing career and looked to make up for the underachievement at International level with his club side. 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 1994.

Under Evans, Barnes and his young proteges like his favoured successor, Steve McManaman, fellow central midfielder Jamie Redknapp and striker Robbie Fowler won the League Cup with Liverpool in 1995. Barnes had now been converted into a holding midfielder where he, Redknapp and McManaman would pass their way through teams and set up countless goals for the likes of Fowler. He often captained the side in 1995-96 when regular captain Ian Rush lost his place in the first team to new signing Stan Collymore, and when Rush departed to Leeds United at the end of the season he became full time captain.

On the 13 August 1997, after 407 appearances and 108 goals, Barnes decided it was time to leave Anfield and was given a free transfer. He had missed just three Premier League games in his final season at Anfield, scoring four goals as they had led the table for much of the first half of the season before being overhauled by eventual champions Manchester United and having to settle for a fourth place finish.

Newcastle United

Barnes was then snapped up by former team-mate and manager Kenny Dalglish, who was managing Newcastle United. 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.

Charlton Athletic

During the 1998/99 season Barnes signed for Charlton Athletic, who had just been promoted to the Premier League. Defeat on the final day of the season relegated them back to Division One, and Barnes announced his retirement as a player after 20 years.

Barnes had racked up an impressive 754 appearances, for 4 clubs, scoring 198 goals.

International career

While featuring heavily in Watford's rise to prominence, which included a UEFA Cup campaign in 1983, Barnes had established himself as a hugely talented left winger who was the idol of many Watford fans, and he 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 Parkmarker, Belfastmarker.

10 June 1984 will always be a day to remember for Barnes, he scored one of the most breathtaking individual goals ever seen, when he outpaced and out-thought several Brazilian defenders before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting the ball into an empty net during a friendly match at the Estádio do Maracanãmarker Stadium in Rio de Janeiromarker. The goal brought him worldwide fame but also a sense of heavy expectation, with some observers and supporters expecting him to produce moments like that on a match-by-match basis.

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. (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. He then went on to be a regular starter for his country at both the 1988 European Championships and the 1990 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.

In a 1994 World Cup qualifying game against San Marino, Barnes was booed by a section of England supporters at Wembley after a poor performance by the whole team - somehow, his own perceived underachievement throughout his international career was seen as a symbol of England's own ineptitude as a team that evening.

Barnes continued his international career into the mid 1990s, but it was seen by many as a disappointment. England's most capped black player won 79 caps and scored 12 goals, but compared to his club form, he was never seen as a player who peaked when wearing an England shirt. 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 the 6 September 1995 in the memorable 0-0 friendly draw with Colombia at Wembley. The goalless friendly will always be remembered because of the eccentric Colombianmarker goalkeeper, Rene 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. 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. It was reported that in May 2009 that Barnes contacted English League Two side Port Vale to see whether he could replace out-going manger Dean Glover. 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 Tranmere Rovers.

Tranmere Rovers

Barnes was officially named as manager of Tranmere Rovers on 15 June, with Jason McAteer assisting him. He got off to a disastrous start, with Tranmere only winning three of their first fourteen games. On 9 October 2009, Barnes was sacked by the club after a run of just two wins from eleven league games. He has since applied to become the manager of the Rwandan national team.


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" 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 thrice for Liverpool, Newcastle and Celtic Kenny Dalglish (1st).

Career statistics

As a player

As a manager

As of 6 September 2009.


As player

Runner Up


Runner Up

Newcastle United:
Runner Up

As manager



Personal life

John 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. With fellow former footballers Les Ferdinandand 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 Jamaicanmarker 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."

Media and charity work

Barnes became a punditon ITVand a presenter of the football coverage on Fiveas well as having his own weekly football discussion show on LFC TVcalled 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 AMin February 2009 performing the "World in Motion" rap and a parody of the mistimed advert by ITVin the previous weeks Evertonvs. LiverpoolFA Cuptie, with John's "Under-11 World Champion Baton-twirling" routine missed by mock commercials.

Barnes also competed in the fifth BBC series of Strictly Come Dancingwhich 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 Caribbeanmarker for young players with the possibility of them joining Premier League side on trial.


External links

1981/82 Watford Second Division 36 13
1982/83 First Division 42 10
1983/84 39 11
1984/85 40 12
1985/86 39 9
1986/87 37 10
1987/88 Liverpool First Division 38 15
1988/89 33 8
1989/90 34 22
1990/91 35 16
1991/92 12 1
1992/93 Premier League 27 5
1993/94 26 3
1994/95 38 7
1995/96 36 3
1996/97 35 4
1997/98 Newcastle United Premier League 26 6
1998/99 1 0
1998/99 Charlton Athletic Premier League 12 0
1999/00 Celtic Scottish Premier League 0 0
Team Nation From To Matches Won Drawn Lost Win %
10 June 1999
10 February 2000
29 19 2 8 65.5
16 September 2008
15 June 2009
11 7 4 0 63.6
Tranmere Rovers
15 June 2009
9 October 2009
12 3 1 8 24.9

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