Liverpool FC legend ready for 'real business' to start at tournament

John Barnes jokes with Jamaica's manager Errol Smith before the game at WIOC 2024 (Image: Glen O'Connell WIOC)
-Credit: (Image: Glen O'Connell WIOC)


A Liverpool FC legend lined up with the Jamaican team at the city's world football tournament.

Jamaican-born John Barnes, who graced the Anfield pitch in the 1980s and 90s came out to watch the group-deciding game between Jamaica and Libya in the World in One City (WIOC) tournament. Jamaica needed to avoid defeat to qualify for the quarter-finals.

After two games Jamaica had four points and Libya three, so it was a must-win game for Libya. John, the former Liverpool and England winger offered his thoughts about the tournament and what it means for those taking part.

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John told the ECHO: "The WIOC is about supporting the community and communities coming together. There's lots of aggression in the game and lots of rivalry, as you can hear the fans on the side, but it’s all done in good spirit.

"I was here last year for the semi-final and the final, of course there were many more people and the atmosphere was a bit more aggressive. It's nice it’s a bit more subdued now, it's Jamaica versus Libya, so it's nice to see.

Liverpool FC legend John Barnes lines up with the Jamaican team in WIOC 2024 at Jericho Lane (Image: Nashwan Jaffer)
Liverpool FC legend John Barnes lines up with the Jamaican team in WIOC 2024 at Jericho Lane (Image: Nashwan Jaffer WIOC) -Credit:Nashwan Jaffer

"As much as there’s a lot of aggression, once the game is over they all come together and hug. I’m going to try to come down to the final, as that’s when the real business starts".

Jamaica could not find the goals to secure the much-needed draw and at the final whistle they had lost 2 - 0. They missed a clear chance early in the first half, which would have put them 1 - 0 up.

The second half saw chances missed by both sides, then Libya went 2 - 0 ahead, and with 10 minutes to go Jamaica had a penalty but could only hit the crossbar. That could have been the goal that led them to an equaliser and the point they desperately needed to progress to the next round, however it was Libya who made the quarter-final draw on Friday June 21.

About the players on display, John said: "Similar to last year, we know the quality they have. The quality in amateur football is plain for everyone to see, obviously that's different when looking at international or professional football.

Jamaica and Libya race for the ball in the WIOC tournament in Jericho Lane (Image: Glen O'Connell WIOC)
Jamaica and Libya race for the ball in the WIOC tournament in Jericho Lane (Image: Glen O'Connell WIOC) -Credit:Glen O'Connell WIOC

"You see some of these players and can see some of them would have been at clubs when they were younger. I know some who played for the West Indies from last year, probably in their 30s now who would have been in Liverpool as kids, so, yes the quality is good."

To the question, should EFL or even Premier scouts be probably nosing at this competition John said: "Of course you can have some untapped gems, look at Jamie Vardy what he did and where he played. Generally these players, at their age, unless you’re going to have a 14 year player who's playing at this level professional football now, particularly in the Premier League, they develop them from an early stage.

"That’s not to say these couldn’t be playing at a decent level, but many of them won't be playing in the Premier League from here now. The advice I give them, enjoy it.

John added: "This is what it's all about, enjoyment. You can see that you have to play with passion and dedication, but football is all about enjoyment, for the fans as well.

Libya celebrate their victory over Jamaica and made it to the quarter-finals of WIOC (Image: Ben Orrell Jones)
Libya celebrate their victory over Jamaica and made it to the quarter-finals of WIOC (Image: Ben Orrell Jones) -Credit:Ben Orrell Jones

"From the fans to the players, just enjoy the atmosphere and the experience. Similar to last year you had the West Indies team as well, as you have a big West Indian community here.

"From the fans' perspective the Somalis, last year, and the Yemenis were the most vibrant. As I said, I came last year and it was fantastic.

"Lots of them probably were not even born in Yemen or Somalia, but they still have that pride in their country and the pride in themselves. They’re showing what they can do, showing they love football, that they have community spirit and that they have brotherhood with other members of the community even though they’re from other countries”.

Now in its fourth year the WIOC Football Tournament sees 16 teams, formed from their national heritage, from across the Liverpool City Region compete for the title of World Champions. Of the 16, the final eight teams to go through are from Group A; West Indies and Nigeria, Group B; Libya and Guinea Bissau, Group C; England and Somali Team and Group D; Yemen and Rest of the World

For fixtures and more visit WIOC HERE

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