Everton boss Roberto Martinez hailed midfielder Gareth Barry as one of England’s best-ever players after his side’s victory over Manchester City.
The Toffees beat City 2-1 at Goodison Park in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final tie thanks to goals from Ramiro Funes Mori and Romelu Lukaku.
Martinez was thrilled with the performance of his players and paid tribute to the leadership shown by 34-year-old Barry.
“I have never seen a player with such incredible professionalism, standards and so level-headed as Gareth Barry,” he said.
“Gareth is one of those players who gets underrated. The reason we have so many developing young players is there are leaders in the mould of Gareth Barry. It is no coincidence when we have Gareth Barry around them.
“For me, he is one of the best English players ever. He could reach 600 Premier League appearances this season.
“The way he behaves and the way he plays, you can build a team around him.”
Everton’s first-leg win puts them in with a chance of making next month’s final at Wembley, but Martinez knows the hardest work will come in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on January 26.
He continued: “We know we have a momentous, huge second leg and we will have 8,000 Evertonians with us at Etihad Stadium. We wanted to win the first leg and we have done that.
“I am very, very proud of our performance. We conceded a goal to a really good counter-attack but showed a winning mentality to come right back.”
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