Former England international midfielder Gareth Barry could become a Premier League record-holder if he features for West Brom against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night. The veteran star could break the record for most Premier League appearances by an outfield player.
The midfielder is currently level with Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs on 632 appearances. However, he is set to make his own piece of history, if he features for the Baggies in north London.
Barry also holds another Premier League record, which is less glamorous, as it is for the most booking in the Premier League era with 119 bookings. To be fair he has played a lot more games than most players, so is more likely to pick up more cautions.
Surprisingly Barry is not the favourite to get booked on Monday night. That distinction falls to Baggies teammate Claudio Yacob, who is odds of 7/4 to receive a caution. I would not bet against the midfielder receiving a yellow card, though.
Barry is a fantastic professional
Gareth Barry is one of the best professionals in the modern game and has been for nearly two decades. I remember the 36-year-old playing for Aston Villa against Everton at Goodison Park after the then-youngster joined Villa from Brighton. I believe he was 16 or 17 at the time.
In his early days, he played at centre-back, but he has been versatile enough to also play at left-back and even left-aside of midfield. He is the sort of player that is a manager’s dream. Barry is the sort of player that will do the dirty work without complaints and do a job anywhere he plays in a team.
At Everton, he showed real professionalism. When he first arrived at the club, there was scepticism about his age. However, he proved to be a very decent acquisition for the Toffees. In fact, some Evertonian’s say that the team have missed the midfielder’s presence this season.
Not just as destroyer
In the recent years of his career, Gareth Barry has developed a reputation as a defensive midfield destroyer. His yellow card count in the Premier League has not helped that. However, at times Barry technically ability has almost gone unnoticed.
His primary job is to stop opposition attacks. However, his passing range and ability to get his team moving from that defensive midfield position is underrated. He was actually quite good at scoring and creating goals earlier in his career.
At Villa, he was actually considered a creative midfielder and scored 40 goals in his 350 appearances for the Villans. I think Steve Bruce could probably do with a player like Barry at the moment.
Long may it continue
Most fans of clubs that Gareth Barry has played for will wish him well in his future endeavours. When some players leave clubs, they leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
However, some players carry themselves with such dignity and respect that they will always be welcomed back at their former clubs, Gareth Barry is certainly one of those. When he visits Villa Park (maybe not as a Baggies player!), the Etihad Stadium or Goodison Park he is sure to get a good ovation.
I like many supporters hope that Gareth Barry can continue playing for a long time to come. He may not be the most glamorous or high-profile player. However, his sheer professionalism and top attitude deserves the highest amount of respect.
It will be nice to see Barry beat the record this evening and then maybe he will get some recognition for two decades spent playing in the English top-flight.
Does Gareth Barry deserve more credit than he gets from fans and the media?
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