Barnes backs Wanyama to lift EA football

Retired Liverpool legend John Barnes (in red) posses with kids from the 365 Programme kids at ...
Retired Liverpool legend John Barnes (in red) posses with kids from the 365 Programme kids at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on February 27, 2016. Photo/Abdi Rizack

Retired Liverpool FC legend turned television pundit, John Barnes, hopes Harambee Stars captain and fellow English Premier League side Southampton FC midfield lynchpin, Victor Wanyama can inspire a change in the perception of East African football.

Barnes who is in the country for the Road to Anfield, Standard Chartered Trophy tournament in Nairobi also hopes new world governing body, FIFA boss, Gianni Infantino, can bring changes into the crisis-ridden international game.

The Jamaican born forward who was a revered goal poacher for Watford and then Liverpool was speaking at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani when he joined the teams for a kickabout and subsequent media engagement on Saturday.

“I don’t know much about Kenyan football but what I do know is West African football is way ahead of East African football but we all see what Wanyama is doing and I hope the perception about East African football will change,” he remarked.

Since his 10 million pounds move from Scottish champions, Glasgow Celtic to the Saints, Wanyama who is surrently suspended, has evolved into a key cog in Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side that is pushing for European football next season, rising to be the poster boy of the East African game.

Barnes, who managed Celtic  for a season in 1999 and his native Jamaica from 2008-09, gave a measured welcome to the election of Italian born Swiss national, Infantino, the former UEFA Secretary General to the head of world football on Friday.

“ I’m not a politician, but I hope infantino can bring forth changes in football and its my wish he improves the quality of football,” the retired England international who plundered 84 goals in 314 appearances for the Anfield giants held.

While most associate him with the swashbuckling title-winning Liverpool side of the late 80s and 90s after making 233 apperances and netting 65 for the Hornets, Barnes reserves a special place for his first English top flight club.

“People remember my time and achievements at liverpool but Watford was a competitive team, I never found it difficult to play in England,” the television pundit who leaves for England on Saturday night for the Capital One Cup final between his former side Liverpool and Machester City at Wembley revealed.

And so, why did he opt for the Three Lions over his native Reggae Boys?

“I chose England over Jamaica because England gave me a chance to play, Jamaica did not,” the striker who scored 11 in 79 caps for England in an international career spanning from 1983 to 1995 said.

Liverpool won the English title in Barnes first season where he scored 15 and won the FA Cup the next as the Reds lost the title to Arsenal on the final day. He scored 22 in the title-winning side of 1990, the last time Liverpool lifted the crown now known as English Premier League.

Speaking at the same function, Stanchart CEO, Lamin Manjang said proceeds from the Road to Anfield tournament would go to the Seeing is Believing charity more assosiated with the annual Nairobi International Marathon.

Report by Abdi Rizack

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