Former Derby County midfield maestro, who later featured for West Bromwich Albion, Doncaster Rovers and Houston Dynamo, speaks to FourFourTwo in May 2007.
I’m known around the club as Barnsey, although the gaffer sometimes calls me Dribblinho when I keep hold of the ball too long in training!
Club supported as a boy
Arsenal. I was a big fan around the time when Vieira and Petit were bossing their midfield and they had the likes of Overmars and Anelka in the team. When I was with the club as a youngster, I used to get free tickets and would often go to Highbury with my dad.
I’d probably say running at people with the ball. It was something I used to a lot when I was younger but you need to be more sensible with the ball in the first team. I’ve also had a few wake-up calls from stocky full-backs and big centre-halves saying ‘Don’t try that again’ after they’ve put me on my backside!
There’s not one part of my game that doesn’t need improving. Every day I am learning and getting stronger and I look at someone like Frank Lampard for inspiration; he’s only just reached his peak at 28, so I’ve got 10 years ahead of me to get to his level.
I play a bit like…
I enjoy watching Steven Gerrard, who loves to run at defenders when he gets the opportunity, but I wouldn’t dare compare myself with him at this stage of my career. Saying that, I’d rather make a name for myself in my own right than be compared to other players.
Making my first start for Derby against Sheffield United. To play almost 90 minutes in front of a full house at Pride Park, then win the Man of the Match award against a very good team, gave my confidence a nice boost at the time.
Getting sent off against Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season. I received a straight red for a tackle on Graham Coughlan but it was one of those where my momentum caused the collision. The club appealed but unfortunately we couldn’t get it overturned.
I have two: Jason Koumas and Martin Albrechtsen. When we played West Brom recently, both loved to bomb on down their right flank and a sour left midfielder that day, I really had my work cut out. What made it worse was that we conceded a last-minute goal to lose 1-0.
Best player played with
There’s been a few but I really enjoyed playing alongside Inigo Idiakez when he was at Derby. He is a great dead-ball specialist and a good passer of the ball.
My dad Ronald has taken me everywhere throughout my career. He must have racked up some mileage in the car over the years and it’s not until I’ve got older that I’ve really appreciated his commitment. Our manager Billy Davies has also been integral to making me a first-team player while ex-Academy Director, Terry Westley was also a big help in my early days at the club.
Best advice given
My dad has always told me to enjoy my football but remain focused.
Seth Johnson is the one that springs to mind. When Andrew Davies was here on loan, the laces were cut from his trainers and the tongues were also missing – so you can guess who the instigator was! Seth also likes to cut the ends off people’s socks.
Latest iPod download
It was the Mario CD ‘Go’. I find that slower R&B helps me unwind after the hustle and bustle of playing football.
PS2 or Xbox
Xbox for me. My favourite game at the moment is NBA 2K7,while I’m the king at Pro Evo at our club. Mind you, Dean Leacock would have something to say about that!
The Pursuit of Happiness is a great film, although the best I’ve seen recently is Blood Diamond. I like action thrillers and Leonardo Di Capriowas a top man in it.
Favourite other sport
Athletics. I competed at national schools level at 100m, where I won a gold medal. I was asked to run for England Schools but football always came first - saying that, I probably would have gone into athletics if I hadn’t made it as a footballer.
Tell us something we don’t know
When I was younger I played for both Chelsea and Arsenal. I was born and bred in London but then my dad moved his business up to the Midlands and after a spell at Nottingham Forest, I settled at Derby County.
Best friend in football
At Derby I tend to knock about with Lewin Nyatanga and James Meredith, while I’ve made good friends with Lee Cattermole, Hogan Ephraim and Seb Hines while I’ve been on England duty. I’ve also had plenty of banter on the phone with Tom Huddlestone since he moved to Tottenham.
If you could play with any player…
Zinedine Zidane. In his prime he was the best player in the world by some distance and had the best first touch and vision I have everseen.
In five years time I’ll be…
In the Premiership – although there might be a chance we’ll get there much sooner. I’d also like to be knocking on the door of the England set-up. I’ve yet to play for the U21s, so I know it’s going to be a big ask to push for a senior call. But you’ve got to set yourself targets.
From the May 2007 edition of FourFourTwo.