The list of legendary players to play for Liverpool Football Club is an extensive one. There are an embarrassment of riches for the Reds in that regard. One of those legends is our focus for the return of Liverpool Lore. We take a look at back at the great John Barnes.
Barnes made over 400 appearances for Liverpool while netting 107 goals in partnership with an additional 94 assists.
Those are very healthy returns for a player that spent a lot of his time out wide before eventually shifting to the middle of the park.
He arrived at Liverpool along with a host of strong new arrivals such as Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge and Ray Houghton. Talk about an example of immaculate business for a club. That haul has to be put up with some of the best ever.
His first Liverpool appearance came on August 15th, 1987. Barnes was instrumental in helping create a goal for Aldridge in that match.
He scored his first goal as a Red almost exactly two months later when he netted against Oxford United.
During that first campaign, Barnes and Liverpool raced to the English League title following a 29 match unbeaten streak to kick start the season. He bagged 15 goals in the league during his debut campaign which was second only to Aldridge.
It was an immediate return of success for club and player that is rarely seen these days (Outside of Erling Haaland).
Barnes was at the club following the Hillsborough disaster where he would attend several funerals and visited numerous hospitals of those affected. In one of the darkest times for the club, Barnes was among those at the front trying to help carry the light forward.
Shortly thereafter, Barnes was inspirational in Liverpool defeating Everton to win the 1989 FA Cup. He set up multiple goals for Ian Rush while playing out wide on the left. It was a nice respite for the club in a time of turmoil.
In 1990, Barnes was the star man as Liverpool secured another league title with his 22 goals from the left wing inspiring the Reds to glory. Barnes was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.
Things took a sour turn in his career when he missed the 1992 FA Cup Final after tearing his achilles on England duty in a tune-up match for Euro 92.
Upon his return 5 months later, it was clear he had lost the dynamic aspect of his game that had made him so irresistible.
Then manager Graeme Souness was not widely loved by the locker room at that time. His no nonsense style and harsh demands on a daily basis did not mesh well with a team that had won so much together.
Barnes was shifted to central midfield where his superb ball control and passing abilities could be utilized. This allowed the squad to cover his lack of burst on the wing as well.
Upon Ian Rush’s departure in the mid 90’s, Barnes assumed the Captaincy at Liverpool. It was a great honor and recognition for a player that had adapted his game to stay at the highest level.
Almost 10 years to the day from his Liverpool debut, Barnes departed Liverpool on a free transfer. He was replaced at the club by a totally different player in the form of Paul Ince.
John Barnes played for Liverpool during one of their greatest eras of players. Looking back, it has been widely accepted that for a 3-4 year stretch he was not only the best player on those teams, but he was one of the best in the world.
His ability to adapt throughout his career and his free flowing style made him a memorable player that everyone would consider themselves lucky to get to see play.
Kenny Dalglish having the confidence in Barnes to play with unrivaled freedom truly unlocked his true potential as a footballer. In a long list of Liverpool legends, John Barnes’ resume will hold up to any of them. He was a treasure for the club that brought the side to new heights.