Barton - ‘I am a competitor – that won’t change’

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It was quite apt that Sean Dyche made Joey Barton an omelette while discussing linking up together at Burnley.

As the idiom goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Joey Barton.

Joey Barton.

And it’s fair to say Barton wouldn’t be where he is today without his well-publicised past indiscretions.

However, the 33-year-old is purely focused on the future, and that lies at Turf Moor for the coming season at least.

Barton is eager to leave all that in the past, as he looked ahead to simply playing football for Burnley.

He said: “I think this is a great opportunity to showcase what I’m about.

“The thing that sometimes gets missed with me is how good a footballer I am. You don’t play at the level I have done for as long as I have if you’re not proficient at your job.

“I believe in the future and pushing forward. We’ve all made mistakes.”

Barton has been convicted twice on charges of violence, sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in May 2008 for common assault and affray, serving 77 days of a prison term, while in July the same year he was handed a four-month suspended sentence after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo during a training ground incident.

On the pitch, he has been charged with violent conduct three times by the Football Association – firstly for the assault on former France international Dabo, for punching then Blackburn Rovers winger Morten Gamst Pedersen in the stomach while with Newcastle, and, with QPR, famously handed a 12-match ban – the longest for an on-field incident in England since Eric Cantona in 1995– for his sending off at former club City in 2012.

Barton admitted: “I can’t sit here and try to justify that, a lot of it was unjustifiable.

“For me I’ve paid my dues. I’ve gone ‘Okay, that’s not acceptable, I’m a young man who was behaving completely unacceptably, culminating with me going to jail.

“What can I do? I can’t go back and change that, and I think I have tried to progress myself in the right manner off the pitch.

“That process is accelerated by having kids.

You start not being the most important person in the world, which someone with an ego like mine at the time thought I was, whereas now you realise ‘I’m just another idiot’ and the kids are the most important thing.

“They’re going to have to go to school or have to try to grow up in the world and try to justify you acting like a idiot in a city centre.

“They do give you that foresight of what your legacy’s going to be as a parent first and foremost, and if you get that right everything takes care of itself. People are quick to bandy stuff that happened to me in 2006, 2007. I was a young, insecure scared little boy who didn’t know how to behave.”

He recently said he “can still feel to wolf inside”, but he added: “I am a competitor so that won’t change. The competitive instinct is always in there. I have had to learn to taper it. It gets more amplified, the stuff I’ve done off the pitch than the stuff on the pitch. I think on the pitch if you just judge me I think it’s relatively par for the course, my on the pitch behaviour.”