Over the years working for BRMB, Xtra AM, Capital Gold, Free Radio and latterly talkSPORT I have got to know and have interviewed hundreds of players from all our local clubs. Most have been great to deal with and some not so good but thankfully there are just a few in the latter category. With many players the working relationship develops into a friendship that last’s for years long after they have retired or moved on.

Gareth Barry is one of those players who was always friendly and always prepared to do interviews when he was at Aston Villa. However under that nice quiet exterior image is a man with a winning mentality aligned with desire, hard work and commitment. So it’s no surprise he has broken Ryan Gigg’s record of 632 premier league games. I would imagine he is a manager’s dream to work with and some of his team mates I have spoken to tell me he was the first name they wanted to see on the team sheet on a Friday afternoon.

I have had the opportunity to be in his company outside of the game and let me tell you that competitive streak also stretches to playing pool. Both he and his dad are pool hustlers as I found out in Spain. Seriously though when in his company away from football you can see that his nice guy image is not an act for the world of football. He is exactly the same and I am sure his parents had a lot to do with that bringing him up in an environment where respect and politeness were key. Like all of us he is not a Saint and it would be wrong to portray him as such but he has not had the sort of headlines that have tarnished some player’s careers and has not caused any of his managers a minute’s problem.

So Congratulations to Gareth on reaching that 633 game milestone. How long will he go on for? He will be the first to know when it’s time to call it a day as he continues to do for  West Bromwich Albion what he has done for Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and England and that is quietly going about his job, driving the team on and being competitive while rarely giving the ball away. Without doubt a role model for any young player with a genuine desire to reach the top.