Ross Barkley, a former Everton academy graduate now with Luton Town, has opened up about the difficult period following his departure from the club in 2018, writes the LiverpoolEcho. In an interview, the 30-year-old midfielder discussed the taunts he and his family endured, the passing of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, and his perspective on the club’s unexpected points deduction.
Having risen through Everton’s academy, Barkley experienced immense support as he aimed to become a top player. However, his decision to join Chelsea stirred emotions among fans, leading to abuse and threats. Speaking to the Times, Barkley revealed the impact of fan reactions: “I did get threats. It’s part of the game. I expected it. It shouldn’t be.”
Despite the challenges, Barkley emphasized that his dream as a youngster was to play for Everton. He explained that his desire to play for the English national team led him to Chelsea, where he sought to challenge and better himself alongside top players. The abuse he faced from Everton fans included being called a ‘rat’ and a ‘money grabber.’
Reflecting on the aftermath, Barkley acknowledged the initial difficulties for his family but mentioned that the situation eventually improved: “Whenever she’d go out people stopped and asked, ‘Why did he decide to leave?’ My mum’s tried to keep a low profile and just go about her business. That’s one thing she hated but within a year or two it settled, it was fine.”
Barkley admitted that the move didn’t align with his personal targets, as he has not been selected for international tournaments since leaving Everton. However, he noted that the fans have moved on, expressing support for his return last year when he was a free agent.
The interview also touched upon Barkley’s relationship with Bill Kenwright, Everton’s chairman who recently passed away. Barkley shared fond memories of Kenwright’s support during his early years, highlighting the chairman’s connection to his upbringing and pride in Barkley’s achievements.
Regarding Everton’s 10-point deduction, Barkley expressed shock, describing it as unprecedented in the Premier League. Despite benefiting Luton Town in the relegation battle, he praised Everton’s response and credited manager Sean Dyche for bringing back the club’s fighting spirit and togetherness.
In retrospect, Barkley’s journey reflects the complexities of leaving a boyhood club, the impact on personal goals, and the enduring connection with fans and figures like Bill Kenwright.