Barkley remembers Rooney departure

Ross Barkley wants to become an Everton legend

Ross Barkley wants to become an Everton legend

First published in National Sport News © by

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley remembers how he felt the day Wayne Rooney left the club for Manchester United and hopes his new four-year contract will allay fans' fears of another academy prospect being lured away.

Over the last 12 months the 20-year-old has emerged as a key player in manager Roberto Martinez's plans and an improved deal gives both parties some degree of security as they plan for the future.

Barkley admits the 2004 departure of Rooney, the greatest talent to emerge from the club's academy in recent times, was a tough day for him and fellow Evertonians as he felt the club could go places with the precocious then 18-year-old.

With Barkley's performances earning him a place in England's World Cup squad there was plenty of speculation linking clubs with him so when the offer of a new contract came up the midfielder was only too happy to sign.

"It is sending out the message that we want to do well and win silverware," said the youngster.

"I knew what it meant to me when Rooney left. He was one of the better players and I thought Everton could have pushed on at the time.

"When he left we were all down and I know how the fans felt so I wanted to sign (a new contract) and push on with Everton.

"We have to keep good players at the club and we've done that with Bainesy (Leighton Baines) signing a new contract, Seamus (Coleman) and a few others.

"It is stability and it shows we want to push on and don't want to stand still.

"I've played for Everton most of my life. I see it as my home. This is a big thing for me. This is the club that I love."

Barkley maintains he does not think about his long-term future but he does harbour an ambition to join the ranks of Everton greats and he can only do that with a lengthy spell at Goodison Park.

"I've got a long way to go to be an Everton legend," he added.

"Hopefully one day I am but I am just hoping to do everything right on the pitch and see how things go.

"I've only had one full season in the Premier League so I've still got a lot to do."

Barkley is looking to progress again after some impressive displays last season and is prepared to be challenged.

He was deployed as an attacking midfielder to allow him freedom without too much responsibility but Barkley also wants to test himself in a slightly deeper role.

"I am thinking about developing all-round my game and hopefully playing a few games in central midfield and being a leader on the pitch," he added.

"I am a young lad at the early stages of my career and I am confident in my own ability but I know there are a lot of things to improve on."

Despite his young age Martinez hopes Barkley can now play an influential role for other aspiring teenagers hoping for a first-team break.

"Sometimes you don't realise what a big model he is for the youngsters that we have at the club," said the Toffees boss.

"I want Ross to be a big example on and off the pitch. The way the new deal has come along is a true reflection of things to come in the future.

"The youngsters at Finch Farm can understand they can be the new Ross Barkley."

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