Newcastle midfielder/reprobate Joey Barton is no stranger to inflammatory commentary, though in an interview broadcast by the BBC’s Radio 4 Tuesday, he saved his most withering criticism not for the Toon Army, but rather for his fellow soccer zillionaires. From the Independent’s Jonathan Brown :
“Most footballers are knobs,” he told an edition of the Today programme that was guest-edited by his mentor, Tony Adams. “I meet a lot of them and they are so detached from real life it’s untrue. You can dress it up whichever way you want, but driving around in flash cars and changing them like they’re your socks, wearing stupid diamond watches and spending your money like it’s going out of fashion. In the midst of a recession in this country when people are barely struggling to put food on the table for the kids “ it’s not the way to do it,” he said.
The £5.8m Newcastle United midfielder, who earns £20,000 a week, said he has given up drinking alcohol and has undergone behavioural therapy to control his temper at the charity Sporting Chance following a series of bust-ups, which included stubbing out a cigar in the eye of a young teammate.
He described the environment in which top footballers mixed as a “Peter Pan world” “ one in which he too had been cocooned since joining a Premiership youth team at the age of eight. Like many others, he said he would never have grown up unless his problems had emerged in the media, forcing him to confront his demons.
Lifting the lid on the cosseted lives led by some of his fellow players, he said: “There is always an agent who will sort out your contract or your mortgage, or they will sort your house out or your car insurance or the club will have people … you will never have to do anything for yourself if you don’t want to.”