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Barnes tips Matt for top

Posted on 25 January 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Former England international John Barnes was a surprise onlooker at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday evening when Spurs reserves were defeated by their Chelsea counterparts in an entertaining contest.

Perhaps not surprisingly, for a man with left wing tendencies, the player who caught the eye of the ex-Watford and Liverpool star, was our own dashing young thruster, Matthew Etherington.

"It’s the first time I’ve seen him," said Barnes. "I’ve known about him obviously when he came from Peterborough to Tottenham and I’ve heard good things. But you can never tell.

"I was very impressed, I thought he was the best player out there." Rich praise indeed when you consider that players of the calibre of Jesper Gronkjaer, Jody Morris, Graeme Le Saux and Mario Stanic were on view.

"Obviously there were some great players on the pitch, but he tried very hard, he’s tackled back, he didn’t just play as an out-and-out winger and tucked into midfield — he worked hard and I was very impressed with him."

Barnes does not attach much credence to the fact that Etherington is one of that rare breed of modern footballer — a left-footed Englishman — and refuses to get carried away by the furore over the shortage of them.

"Well no, there are not many. But left-footed or right-footed, you’re a footballer and he can certainly play football, is left-footed and is a fantastic player."

Barnes did not hesitate when it came to predicting a bright future for Etherington at the top level. "Definitely, I’ve been looking forward to seeing him because there was a big deal made when he came from Peterborough. I haven’t seen him in the first team, I don’t know if he’s played much, but I’ve been very impressed with him."

In case you were wondering why John Barnes was present at a Chelsea-Spurs reserve match, he is spending a week with former team-mate Kenny Jacket in Watford. He is out of football at present since departing his head coach role at Celtic and has been carrying out television work.

"Of course I want to get back into football because that’s what I do, so hopefully I’ll get back in soon — fingers crossed."

By Richard Hubbard