Record near for Gareth Barry, who did not think he would reach milestone tally

21 September 2017 13:24

West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry insists he never expected to be a record breaker as he closes in on the Premier League appearance mark.

The 36-year-old will play in his 633rd top-flight game and break Ryan Giggs' record if he features at Arsenal on Monday.

He made his Premier League debut for Aston Villa as a second-half substitute in a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in May 1998.

Barry joined West Brom from Everton this summer and will get an extension to his initial one-year deal should he make a set number of appearances.

But the midfielder admitted breaking the Premier League appearance record was never a goal.

He said: "I didn't think I'd get here. You make your debut and you're focused on different things. When I hit 500 you're thinking you're coming to the end of your career. I've been able to keep going.

"I've not set any targets and taken it a season at a time. It's a fantastic life I've been living - let's keep it going."

"I want to go as long as possible. Any ex-players and all my family say 'play as long as possible because there'll be plenty of time to sit back and do different things'.

"There's no better feeling than running out there with your team-mates trying to win a game. I'm going to miss that when I do finish so while I still can be involved I'm going to keep going and enjoying it. The desire is still there.

"When I think about my debut to hitting this number everything has gone so quickly in between. I'll be really proud and when I've finished I'll try to take in what's happened in between a bit more."

Barry made 365 appearances for Villa before playing 132 matches in the top flight for Manchester City.

He featured 131 times for Everton and has played four games for West Brom after signing for around £800,000 in the summer. He also won the Premier League with Manchester City in 2012.

However, the former England man - who won 53 caps for his country - will try to forget his landmark when Albion run out at the Emirates on Monday.

"It'll be a nice moment, it'll be in my head but I'll be put to the back of the mind because it's a tough game," he said.

"That number will be an individual thing but football is a team game, no matter what you achieve if you don't get a positive result you're going to be dampened. Anything other than a positive result, there won't be a smile on my face."

Source: PA