Joey Barton admits he feels “privileged” to be back with Burnley.
And after his match-winning goal against Southampton on Saturday, he intends to continue to repay manager Sean Dyche, the players’ and fans’ faith in him.
After helping win the Championship title, Barton turned down a new contract at Turf Moor for a fresh challenge with Rangers.
However, he endured an ill-fated time at Ibrox, and had his contract terminated in November, after a reported training ground confrontation in the aftermath of the 5-1 defeat at Celtic in September.
After accepting an offer to train back at the Barnfield Training Centre at Gawthorpe, he has sharpened up his fitness and signed a deal to the end of the season once the transfer window opened.
Barton still has an FA misconduct charge for alleged betting offences over his head, but Dyche said: “I’ve had no question marks about him before and I didn’t see why I would again.”
Barton is “humbled” by the club’s loyalty, and he said after his free kick saw off the Saints: “The gaffer has shown an incredible amount of faith in me in amongst the circus that kind of goes on in and around me.
“This club has shown commitment to me by bringing me back. I didn’t have a great time up the road, and to show that faith in me the minute they knew it wasn’t going to plan and I was going to be out of a club, they were on the phone offering me the chance to train at the club.
“The fans, the reception....people forget I left this club so they would have been within their rights to boo me. That reception makes me incredibly humble and I was just so proud to come on and receive that.
“Sometimes at football clubs, it just fits. From the minute I’ve walked into this football club, it just works.
“They understand me and I understand them, it just works and that isn’t always the case. I’m intent on giving all I can for this case and when I score it goes some way to validate the gaffer’s faith in me - and the players because they didn’t have to accept me back the way they have.
“I feel privileged to hopefully repay that between now and the end of the season.”
Barton doesn’t deal with regrets, and is just looking at the here and now: “I don’t really do regrets. If you go through the rollercoaster of my life, I don’t really focus on the past. It’s probably my greatest strength and my greatest weakness at the same time.
“I just keep pushing forward. If I focussed on the past too much, I wouldn’t do what I’ve done in my career because there’s so much nonsense that goes on around me. You just have to keep believing in what you are about.
“There’s a conversation for another day about what went on (at Rangers). I’m not standing here saying that’s two fingers up to anybody. Life’s too short for that. I just feel incredibly privileged and humble to be given the opportunity to be back playing for this football club. I’m intent on enjoying every minute of it because it could all stop tomorrow. I realise that with that little bit of time out I had.”
And he feels he can make a big impact as the Clarets look to survive and prosper in the Premier League: “I’ve contributed a bit to that today. There’s no point looking back, what’s happened has happened. What I can change is tomorrow and alter the future. I’ve already got a great legacy at this club because I
shared a fantastic journey and I’m just intent on adding to that. I feel I’m in a better place physically and mentally. I’m a lot more hungry because people have written me off. I’m a lot more humble because the club didn’t have to show this faith in me. I’m just focused on the future. It’s exciting times for this football club and hopefully I can be part of that for as long as they deem necessary.”
Dyche smiled after the game: “You can’t make it up. I just said to him I couldn’t write your story!”
And Barton accepted: “Sometimes things just work out funny. Football is a funny old game.
“The amount of people who wrote me off after what happened in Scotland, fortunately, I don’t really believe in what’s written about me.”