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A look back at the extraordinary career of Gareth Barry

Sunday 17th September 2017
After starting for West Bromwich Albion against West Ham on Saturday, Gareth Barry became the joint highest appearance maker in Premier League history, alongside Ryan Giggs. We look at how Barry's career has been building up to this moment and his chances of extending it.

Gareth Barry began his career at Aston Villa at the end of the 20th century after coming through Brighton's youth system. He made his debut as a centre-back in 1998 and was part of a back three that consisted of current England manager, Gareth Southgate, and the late Ugo Ehiogu. His position changed over time and he eventually became a central midfielder via left back and left midfield, while also being handed the captaincy. His goal tally for Villa was impressive considering his role in the team and that was because he was the Villains' regular penalty taker – a duty he has since relinquished in the latter stages of his career.

After over 350 league appearances for Villa and an Intertoto Cup to his name, Barry left for Manchester City in 2009 for a fee of £12m. He had tried to engineer a move to Liverpool a couple of years earlier but Villa did all they could to stop him from leaving - Barry was suspended and fined 2 weeks' wages because of the incident. Anyway, Barry went on to win the Premier League title and an FA Cup in his 4-year spell in the City team. After being a regular in midfield for Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini, Barry felt he had to leave to get some game time after the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini, so he made his way to Goodison Park.
Barry was man of the match on his Everton debut in a 1-0 win over Chelsea and his assuring presence in the centre of midfield was key as the Toffees pushed for a Champions League place under Roberto Martinez, falling just short come the end of the season. Last season he was voted Player of the Year by his teammates, as well as picking up the main award. The respect that teammates and opposition feel for the former England international is unquestionably high, (unless you're Diego Costa), and as his managers will tell you, Barry is a credit to any side.

Both Gareth Barry and Ryan Giggs now have 632 Premier League appearances, but Giggs played in 22 Premier League campaigns - that's three seasons more than Barry! The leading appearance maker in English football history is the legend that is Peter Shilton. The former England goalkeeper made a whopping 1,005 appearances for the likes of Leicester, Stoke, Nottingham Forest and Southampton during a 34-year career. This record includes the old Division One and the Premier League era - Shilton retired in 1997 at the age of 47. Barry's Premier League appearance record is up there with the very best of Europe and if he plays every game this season, he'll go past Paolo Maldini's tally of 647 league games for AC Milan.
Gareth Barry's position of holding midfield is not a particularly strenuous one, which is probably why his career has lasted so long as a first-team regular. His summer switch to West Brom was a very good move for his career because he'll certainly be a favourite under Baggies boss Tony Pulis. Although Barry was Everton's player of the year last season, he wasn't guaranteed regular playing time at Goodison Park this season. Whereas Pulis loves a good holding midfielder - so don't be surprised if, currently at the age of 36, you see Barry playing to his 40th birthday and breaking that 700 Premier League games barrier.
Billy Munday

I'm a young, aspiring sports journalist and also a Chelsea fan, living the dream in London. You can find more examples of my work on Chelsea blogs such as the Chelsea Chronicle.

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