IT has been one of football’s wildest decades – and John Barnes has revealed how he had simply his best time as he hit the eighties in a Tina Turner outfit.
Former Liverpool star talked about how crazy antics were common before the Premier League turned the top of the game into a polished money-making machine.
Above Kate Garraway’s Life Story tonight he recalls how the players constantly drank alcohol to celebrate the team’s regular victories.
He told Kate, who will be making her debut as the presenter: “In the late Eighties to early Nineties, we celebrated most nights.
“It gets messy from an alcohol standpoint for many big drinkers.
“But of course you can’t make excuses not to train and play properly.
“If you want to get sick on the pitch from drinking too much, that’s fine.
“Our Christmas party is all about fancy costumes. It will probably last until eight or nine in the morning, after which you just have to dress smartly to go straight to practice. You’ll come in your Mickey Mouse costume, or whatever. “
‘Dalglish let me have it’
In one memorable party, 58-year-old John transformed himself into pop legend Tina Turner – and a few friends gave him admiring glances.
He said: “There were fishnet stockings, cowboy boots, little fur coats and socks just below the skirt with a lace-up belt, and a wig, makeup.
“During the night, I had some fear because after people got drunk, they really didn’t know it was John Barnes.
“If you’re on the toilet with a lot of drunk men and you’re pretty attractive because I’m a little thinner then.”
Recalling the next day’s practice, John added: “I didn’t have to be Tina Turner because I could take my socks off and I would wear a skirt and boots.
“It’s fine, though, because Kenny Dalglish was with us – and he was the manager. You can get anything if you are a good player. “
No one can argue that John is not a top-flight athlete. After signing for Watford in 1981, at the age of 17, he played for the national team for two years.
In 1984, at the age of 20, John became internationally famous thanks to record a memorable feat for England with Brazil.
Receiving the ball to his chest, he started an eight-second run from the left, beating six players before knocking out goalkeeper Roberto Costa.
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The dazzled crowd in the 56,000-capacity Maracanã stadium gave him a standing ovation – and the opening goal just before half-time sealed a 2-0 victory for the Three Lions in a friendly .
Left winger John has signed with Liverpool in 1987. During his decade with the club, they won two league titles and were loved by the red shirt fans.
He describes Scousers as “his people” and explains that’s why he still lives in the city.
But from manager Dalglish, love is conditional. John can get away with bad behavior, until he doesn’t show up on the field.
He recalls a time when he and another player got drunk and decided to take off their clothes before jumping into Liverpool’s Albert Dock.
John recalls: “Kenny Dalglish was said the next day but never mentioned it.
“But a month later I had a bad game and he came off the field after half the time and that’s when he let me have it – because he remembered.”
Contrary to other players seduced by the party lifestyle, he’s still more attached to being married to his first wife Suzy, with whom he has four children – Jamie, Jordan, Jemma and Jasmine.
He went on to marry a second time to Andrea, with whom he had two daughters – Isabella and Tia.
His fame grew and peaked in 1990, just before that World Cup that year in Italy.
In the late eighties to early nineties, we celebrated most nights. It gets messy from an alcoholic point of view for many big drinkers. But of course you can’t make excuses for not training and playing properly.
His rap is the standout moment on New Order’s official UK single, World In Motion – and to this day he can recall every word.
But only a handful of his teammates returned to the record because they thought the song would fail like the previous World Cup anthem.
“The rest of the players said, ‘Well, the song’s going to be trash again because it’s 1986,’ so they didn’t turn up,” said John. Only six people did the song.
“When we got to the studio and it was New Order, we realized it was going to be the right song for the right group.
“But before we did the song, they said, ‘You can get royalties or you can get £5,000 to share with all 25 of you.”
“All the players gathered together and they said: ‘Does the royalties mean that if we don’t sell a record, we won’t get the money?’ They said, “Yeah,” so they said, “We’ll take £5,000.”
“Then it was No1 for three months.”
‘Collect in corners’
After his playing career ended, John went on to become a manager and a professional. Recently, he has appeared on a variety of TV shows including Seriously Come Dancing, Who Do You Think You Are? and Celebrity Big Brother.
He has also appeared on programs such as BBC1’s Question of Time which talks about race and discrimination – a topic in which he has extensive experience.
Born in Kingston, JamaicaJohn came to the UK when he was 12 years old and lives in London.
Like so many black players who emerged in the game in the Eighties, he faced horrendous abuse, with chants and monkey gestures from the in-game crowd.
In a defining image of the abuse that non-white players had to deal with at the time, John is shown in one picture kicking a banana that had been thrown in the grass.
He said: “That picture with the banana, I don’t even remember doing that because it happened whenever we played.
“You have the banner of the National Front in the crowd.” This is what the players have been through all this time so it doesn’t come as a shock to me because I’ve seen this before.
“But I do not tolerate the daily reality of unlucky experience. I ate it on Saturday, but then on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, whatever restaurant I want to go to, if I want to go to Downing Street to see the Prime Minister (I can).
“While the daily experience of the black working class, this is something they have to deal with all their lives.
“I remember walking down Holloway Road in London and I was on a train ride. I played for Watford and had a lot Arsenal the fans were there and they threw things at the coach and racially abused me.
“Interspersed among them, you have average black people going about their daily lives, shopping, and they’re huddled in corners – they’re bowing, they’re hiding.
“I am an elite football player. I was on the coach. But no one speaks for them.”
Although the fight against racism in football has made great strides in the decades since, John says he believes many black Britons are still subjected to discrimination on a daily basis – and say that must change.
“Here we are 30 years later still talking about the ‘upper class’ rather than what is happening in the inner city,” he said.
“There are invisible banana peels and wordless racist abuses against black people every day of their lives. And no one is talking about it.”
- Kate Garraway’s Life Stories begins airing tonight on ITV at 9pm.
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/football/8306458/john-barnes-tina-turner/ I dressed up as Tina Turner in the fishnet, says football legend John Barnes