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West Ham 19:45 Man City

Barton: Toffees snub helped me

By Paul Higham.   Last Updated: 24/01/04 11:58am

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Manchester City youngster Joey Barton says that the pain of being rejected by Everton helped spur him on to succeed in The Premiership.

The fiery Scouser has played the majority of the season for Manchester City this term and has been one of few bright sparks of their recent dismal run of form.

Barton, and Everton supporter, spent six years in their youth ranks before being released from Goodison Park - but he says that disappointment just made him more determined to make it.

"I was 14, a season-ticket holder in the Park End and I was heartbroken. You've got to realise they were the club I'd supported all my life," said Barton.

"My family and everyone associated to me were all Evertonians and I wanted to stay there forever.

"They just disbanded our age group and we all had to look elsewhere - Phil Jagielka's at Sheffield United, Jon Otsemobor's at Liverpool. I was just fortunate that I came for a trial at City and they took me on straight away.

"In hindsight, maybe it was the best thing that could have happened. I had to focus really quickly and it gave me the kick up the backside I probably needed. Maybe I was taking things for granted at Everton.

"I don't hold any grudges but having that sort of disappointment gives you the fuel inside to put people wrong. It's like 'You said I wasn't good enough. Well I'll show you'."

The 21-year-old insists that he is not interested in all the trappings that come with being a Premiership footballer - and is just concentrating on doing the best he can.

"There are all the trappings of being a young footballer, being out late and so on, but I'm not in the game to be a superstar.

"I'm in it to work hard and play football, win as many things as I can and be the best player I can. I'm from a family that keeps themselves to themselves, and that's it."

The England Under-21 international is not phased by the big names in the dressing room at Kevin Keegan's side, saying that he more than holds his own.

"Some of the senior players are probably surprised I answer back so much.

"It might be strange for some of them, me being young and that, but I think they accept it's part of where I'm from in Liverpool.

"Where I grew up it doesn't matter how old you are, if someone says something to you then you've got the right to say something back.

"I just think there are so many lads trying to get out by playing football, you have to be really aggressive.

"I was always really small when I was younger but I could always punch my own weight."


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