Belfast Telegraph

Barry proud to reach appearance milestone

Gareth Barry equalled the Premier League appearance record on Saturday after West Brom's 0-0 draw with West Ham.

The 36-year-old drew level with Ryan Giggs' mark of 632 games at kick-off at The Hawthorns having made his top-flight debut in 1998.

He is now in line to break Giggs' record when the Baggies go to Arsenal on September 25.

Barry told the club's programme before the game: "The idea of being the first player to start 600 Premier League games and equal Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record is hard to take in.

"You don't really think about these milestones when you're playing, you just look to keep playing well every week, do a job for your club and stay in the team.

"Naturally I'm very proud to achieve those things today but hopefully I can keep clocking up the games for a while yet. Looking at the stats, to have started 599 out of 631 so far, that is a bit surprising because that's a pretty good percentage.

"It's nice for my family and something to make them proud. It's one of those for a few years down the line yet, once I've finished playing and I can look back on it all - while I'm resting some tired legs.

"I think there's gas in the tank yet. While I can still perform at that level and enjoy it all, I'll keep on doing it. I feel good, I'm told all my stats are up there with those of the younger players so that's all promising."

Barry made 365 appearances for Aston Villa, after making his debut as a second-half substitute in a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in May 1998, before playing 132 times in the top flight for Manchester City.

He featured 131 times for Everton and has so far played four games for West Brom after signing for around £800,000 in the summer.

He also won the title with Manchester City in 2012 and earned 53 England caps, getting praise from Baggies boss Tony Pulis before the match.

"It is a wonderful achievement, we have only just had him a few weeks," he said.

"I have always rated him as a player but you don't realise how good he is until you actually work with him. Managers who have had him for longer periods are better versed talking about Gareth than myself.

"But he has been absolutely fantastic for us. He is a great lad off the pitch, he has mixed in really well with the rest of the lads and has been our best player in nearly all the games we have played so far.

"He is a top person and a top player. You don't play that many games without being extremely useful."

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