Ex-footballer John Barnes: 'Soaps are a highlight in my life'

John Barnes

Ex-England player John confesses his love for soaps (Image: Shutterstock)

Not a lot of people know this but I’m very good at… I don’t shout from the rooftops about everything I can do, but I do know a huge amount about capital countries in the world. If I’m ever on a quiz show I hope for those questions. Unfortunately, if that doesn’t come up I don’t know much else.

My best friends are… my family. I have seven kids and a wife and they are everything to me.

My nickname is… Digger, after Digger Barnes from Dallas.

Any footballer called Barnes – like Bobby, who was the deputy chairman of the PFA, and Paul, who played for Ipswich – in the early 80s was named after that character.

It was a strange comparison.

The character was an alcoholic and we Barnes’ were black and he was a white guy.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done is… ride a four-man bobsleigh down the Königssee track with [ex-England player] Mark Wright on a show called Harry’s Heroes.

You might not think that’s brave but I tell you, at 97 miles per hour it was so fast and rickety.

My favourite TV show is… I will try and put them into one phrase: Emmernationenders!

I love Emmerdale, Coronation Street and EastEnders.

That is my routine every night between 7pm and 9pm.

My perfect evening is… staying in, cooking and watching my soaps.

At my age, that’s what I look forward to doing.

I’d like to say sorry to… Piers Morgan, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

Every morning I shout at him and I feel really bad.

Apart from that, I have no regrets.

I’ve not always been nice but everything I’ve done in the past has led me to be the person I am today.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I don’t think you should have regrets if you are content.

My first kiss was… with Jane from Kensal Rise.

She was my first girlfriend and I was about 14 years old.

I remember being so nervous.

The one thing I’d change about myself is… I’m argumentative and opinionated and I don’t necessarily bend.

We don’t like to admit these things, but I do.

John scores a goal for Liverpool football club

John won two cup finals at Wembley with Liverpool and scored 106 goals with the club (Image: Getty)

The best thing my parents taught me was… humility.

Not only that but love, discipline and education.

Well, the education worked with my sisters but it didn’t work with me.

The last time I cried was… about six months ago while driving at night.

For some reason my father came into my head.

He died of prostate cancer many years ago.

He was a military attaché and diplomat and taught me to be strong.

I started thinking about him and why he’s the reason I am the person I am.

I’ve always given him credit for that.

I just burst out crying.

I’m talking about proper tears, not just a little sadness, and it really shocked me.

I was howling and I laughed at myself.

The first record I ever bought was… Fantasy by Earth, Wind & Fire, in the 70s when I first moved to England.

My young daughter is 15.

Her friend’s parents gave her a record player and she loves the idea of it because it’s old.

She has no records, she just laughs at it.

It’s not good for my image but I like… I’m not concerned about my image so I embarrass my children all the time by doing stupid things.

I suppose admitting that soaps are a highlight in my life isn’t brilliant.

My greatest weakness is… fast food.

If I could have it everyday I would and my wife has to stop me doing it.

A McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with cheese is better than a Big Mac.

Please, it’s not even an argument.

Secondly, there’s no debate about where to get your chicken from. It’s KFC.

John smiles for the camera

John faced his fears on Harry Redknapp’s TV show Harry’s Heroes (Image: Getty)

If I could pass any law I would… ban discrimination.

I’m talking about sexism, homophobia, ageism, everything.

Being black, we all like to talk about how terrible racism is.

But, of course, any kind of discrimination is based on a misconception of a different group of people.

Unfortunately, a law is not going to change that.

I drive… a Range Rover.

In the old days I liked the little sporty ones but now I have too many kids and grandkids to be selfish.

The shop I can’t walk past is… Tesco.

I’m trying to get fit and lose weight so any exercise is good.

I walk to Tesco every day.

I may only need a pint of milk but I come back with two shopping bags full of stuff we don’t even need.

The most expensive thing I’ve ever splashed out on is… probably a watch or a ring for my wife.

I wear the same clothes and as much as I like nice things, I shouldn’t buy them because I don’t look after them.

The actor who would play me in a film is… Young John would be played by a young Will Smith.

For an older John, I’d like Denzel Washington.

The worst job I’ve ever done is… The only job I’ve had is as a footballer, from 17 years old.

I then worked in the media and became a football manager, which I loved.

I had a paper round in London when I was 14.

I also had a little delivery job in Great Portland Street.

I used the Underground to deliver packages to businesses in the City.

I haven’t had any bad jobs.

John with wife Andrea and two of his children

John: ‘My family are everything to me’ (Image: Getty)

My perfect Sunday is… My big kids are married and two of them are doctors.

Every now and again they’ll all come round and we have a nice big family gathering.

My favourite place in Britain is… Abersoch in North Wales.

If you want to go somewhere like the Costa Del Sol in Britain, then Abersoch is perfect.

The beaches are beautiful.

My kids would move there if they could.

My last holiday was… in Dubai.

We’ve been for the last 12 years so all of the kids have known each other from birth.

They get to see their holiday friends three times a year.

I’m currently reading… White Fragility, written by a white woman called Robin DiAngelo.

A lot of books on racism are written by black people.

It’s refreshing to see a different perspective from a white woman who understands her racial bias based on what she’s been wrongly told about people.

You can’t blame the people who are racist or sexist.

Blame the environment that makes them think that way.

There are reasons why we think what we do, and that is what the book is about.

The best day of my life was… There is no best day of my life.

It’s my whole football career – the good and the bad – because that consistency shows me the person I am.

The happiest days were when my seven children were born and getting to spend time with them ever since.

My children are the most important people in my life.

If I had half an hour left on Earth I’d… get the family round and have a big party.

John is taking part in Celebrity MasterChef on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *