Aiming to bounce back

Joey Barton... looking to take his career to the next level.-AP

Joey Barton broke into the City first team towards the end of the 2002-03 campaign and such was his progress that he was named supporters’ Young Player of the Year the following season, writes Andy Hampson.

Joey Barton, a combative and outspoken midfielder, is looking to take his career to the next level with Newcastle after making his name with Manchester City. Barton has enjoyed fleeting international recognition but his career has been dogged by controversy and his Newcastle chances limited by injury.

Barton was born and raised in Liverpool and had a tough upbringing after his parents separated when he was 14. He then moved into his grandmother’s house with his father. Footballing-wise, he grew up as a fan of Everton and it was there he got his first chance. He played in the club’s youth system but was released and was then turned down by Nottingham Forest after a trial. He made a more positive impression, however, at Manchester City, which signed him and brought him through its ranks.

He broke into the City first team towards the end of the 2002-03 campaign and such was his progress that he was named supporters’ Young Player of the Year the following season. Since then his career has been a complicated one. His performances steadily improved and he matured into one of City’s most influential players but controversy would often rear its head.

During his time at City there were a number of incidents both on and off the field that landed him in trouble. His propensity for speaking his mind also created problems at City, not least over his commitment to the club.

In January 2007 there were conflicting reports that he wanted to leave the club. He questioned the club’s ambition and the attitude of his team-mates and Everton reportedly enquired about his availability. No move materialised as he claimed he wanted to stay with City but the inevitable eventually happened in the summer and he moved to Newcastle in a GBP5.8 million switch.

Barton has one England cap after breaking into the team for a friendly against Spain in February but has not featured since.

Barton’s career cannot be described as anything less than eventful. His fiery nature first became evident in February 2004 when he was bizarrely sent off during the half-time interval for arguing with the referee with his team 3-0 down in an FA Cup tie against Tottenham. Remarkably, his team-mates won 4-3 without him.

He sparked a brawl after a crude challenge in a friendly against Doncaster that summer and then he was fined six weeks’ wages for stubbing out a lit cigar on a team-mate’s eyelid at the club’s Christmas party.

The following summer he was sent home from a pre-season tour of Thailand after getting into a fight with a 15-year-old in a bar. He was again fined and asked to attend anger management classes.

He hit the news again in September 2006 when he dropped his shorts to expose his backside to Everton fans after a match. That led to another fine and he followed that by making scathing comments about some England players for writing autobiographies soon after a dismal World Cup campaign.

The likelihood of him leaving City grew towards the end of 2006-07 when he again criticised his team-mates and manager Stuart Pearce. His season ended in even more controversy as he was suspended by the club following a training ground incident with team-mate Ousmane Dabo. Barton was linked earlier in the year to glamour model Amanda Harrington, apparently a friend of Steven Gerrard’s wife Alex Curran and also Teddy Sheringham’s ex-girlfriend, model Danielle Lloyd. The pair was allegedly spotted together on dates in Manchester and London.

Barton had his flashy silver Range Rover towed away while he was shopping last summer after it was discovered that he had been driving it uninsured. Police took it after randomly scanning his registration details.

In another off-field incident, Barton broke the leg of a pedestrian in Liverpool city centre after hitting him while driving his car in April 2005.

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