Barton: Within five minutes I knew I could cope playing for England

Joey Barton has told FourFourTwo he quickly knew that he was capable of being an England international.

The former Manchester City midfielder made his one and only Three Lions outing against Spain in 2007, coming on in the 78th minute of a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford.

Several disciplinary problems, including one which resulted in him serving 77 days in prison in 2008, contributed to him not going on to win a second cap.

I look back and think I was very fortunate to get one cap. But you know within five minutes whether you can cope with that level or not, and I knew I could play international football

However, the 34-year-old, who joined Rangers this summer following spells at Burnley, QPR and Newcastle, insists he was confident enough after that cameo against Xavi, Andres Iniesta & Co. that he could compete at the elite level.

Speaking exclusively in the October 2016 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, he says: “It was an incredible honour to play for my country and I would have loved to have done it a lot more.

"My behavioural patterns at the time made that particularly difficult. I was struggling with life; struggling to cope with being me. I look back and think I was very fortunate to get one cap. But you know within five minutes whether you can cope with that level or not, and I knew that I could play international football.”

Barton photography: Martin Hunter

Barton’s England debut in 2007 came less than a year after he had criticised several of the Three Lions squad for releasing books after their 2006 World Cup disappointment – a penalty shootout defeat to Portugal in the quarter-finals.

I said what I said, I believed in it, and I thought: ‘I’ll stand behind it if anyone asks me about it.’ For people in the England squad it wasn’t really much of an issue

But the outspoken midfielder claims he didn’t encounter any problems upon stepping into the national team’s inner sanctum for the first time.

“Is it true Steven Gerrard left a signed book outside my room? Yes. I’d known Steven for a while and what I said was never about him and Frank Lampard,” says the Burnley Player of the Year.

“It was about Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole, as I thought: ‘What have they got to write about?’ But because I was a midfielder, and Gerrard and Lampard were the first-choice selections, it suited the media to make it about that.

“I said what I said, I believed in it, and I thought: ‘I’ll stand behind it if anyone asks me about it.’ For people in the England squad it wasn’t really much of an issue, though. Gerrard and Lampard both just got on with it.”

Read the full One-on-One interview with Joey Barton in the October 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, in which we assess how Jurgen Klopp is going about trying to put Liverpool back on their perch. Also this month: FFT's alternative guide to the Champions League, what happened when our man travelled on the Bromley team coach to Torquay, Greenland’s seven-day season, football’s best boozers and British sides’ best underdog displays in Europe. Go get it, then subscribe!