Gareth Barry names the player he saw as his mentor as a teenager at Aston Villa

Gareth Barry At Villa

The Everton midfielder began his career as a centre-back at Villa Park and admits he looked to club captain Gareth Southgate for guidance.

Everton midfielder Gareth Barry has revealed in an interview with the club's programme that the player who had the biggest impact on his early career was former Aston Villa captain Gareth Southgate.

Barry can equal David James' Premier League record of 571 starts if he is named in Roberto Martinez's XI to face Liverpool in tonight's Merseyside derby at Anfield.

The 35-year-old has racked up 733 competitive senior appearances in his career for Villa, Everton, and Manchester City, and his top-flight total of 592 stands behind only Frank Lampard and Ryan Giggs since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992.

Though he has been a midfielder by trade for the vast majority of his career, Barry began his senior career as a teenage centre-back at Villa alongside experienced pair Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu, and he revealed the Everton programme that it was the former of the two who helped him transition from teenage talent to first-team regular.

Barry said: "I was always a centre midfielder from a young age at school. It was the manager of the youth team at Aston Villa who said that things were moving a bit too quick in the middle of the park and, because I could read the game well, they were going to look at me playing at centre-half.

"Gareth was a huge help. I played left of him in defence and he would talk me through the whole game. Communication is massive in football and he was really good at that. I looked up to him for guidance on how to behave off the pitch as well."

Barry played with Southgate in the Villa first team for three seasons until the club captain left Villa Park for Middlesbrough in 2001, by which time Barry was plying his trade further up the pitch.

The former England international left the Birmingham club for Manchester City in 2009 after playing 441 times for the club, mainly as captain, but fast-forward seven years and he is still a regular for Roberto Martinez's Everton side, having missed just three Premier League matches all season long.

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