HITC takes a look at Giles Barnes’ journey from Derby to America.
When I first starting going to watch Derby County to play, back in the days when Billy Davies was in charge, I remember asking my Granddad, who took me to every game, who the best Derby player was. “Giles Barnes, kiddo” was his reply, “you watch him!”
Coming through the Derby youth academy, which had previously produced the then Tottenham midfielder, Tom Huddleston, Giles Barnes was a winger/attacking midfielder who the fans took straight to their hearts.
Electrifying runs and skill that Rams fans weren’t used to seeing, Barnes took Pride Park (now the Ipro Stadium) by storm. After helping Derby get to the play-off final, Barnes made cemented himself in the history of the football club by making a darting run down the right and squaring the ball for Stephen Pearson to score the goal that would take Derby to the Premier League.
And then, tragedy struck. Injury after injury continued to haunt Barnes, and after Derby’s disastrous season in the Premier League, where the club set the record for the lowest points total in Premier League history, Barnes headed out on loan to Fulham. Injuries again prevented the youngster from making his mark, and after training with West Bromwich Albion, Barnes made a permanent move to the Baggies in February 2010.
What should have been the beginning of Barnes’ Premier League fairy-tale turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. Quite why it didn’t work out under Hodgson, no one is particularly sure, but I am certain that the injuries that plagued him since his days at Derby would certainly have played a factor. In 2012, Barnes found himself being released by Doncaster Rovers, and many wondered whether this would be the end of what looked like an immensely promising career.
And then: revitalisation. Barnes moved away from English football altogether, finding himself a new home with American outfit, Houston Dynamo. There, the old Giles Barnes came to life. Making 113 appearances and scoring 31 goals (including plenty of wonder strikes!), Barnes once more became his club’s main man, earning himself a call up to the Jamaican national side in 2015. The following year, Barnes was named the club’s captain; the first Englishman to hold this title, rising in notoriety as the Dyanmo’s best player. A move in the summer to big spenders, Vancouver Whitecaps, shows that Barnes is now one of the hottest properties in American football.
So, could we one day see Giles Barnes return to England? I certainly hope so, and if he continues to take America by storm, English clubs will find the former Derby star hard to ignore.