Clarets striker Barnes traded stopping goals for scoring them!

Ashley Barnes wants to score as many goals as he can - but the Clarets striker once resented the sight of the ball hitting the back of the net.

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 10:27 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 3:25 pm
Clarets striker Ashley Barnes goes for goal as Stoke City's Darren Fletcher looks on.

That's because the 28-year-old played as a goalkeeper through most of his teenage years, until former Paulton Rovers boss Andrew Jones intervened.

Barnes, who idolised Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel when growing up, joked that he could still challenge Tom Heaton and Nick Pope for the number one spot at Turf Moor but, instead, he's hoping to add to his Premier League goal tally this term.

The positional transition at the Athletic Ground ignited his growth in the game as the forward's prolific reputation in the Southern League caught the eye of then Plymouth Argyle boss Ian Holloway, catapulting him to a Championship club.

"I started off as a goalkeeper, so it was Peter Schmeichel who was my hero," he said. "It was just how good he was as a goalkeeper.

"I used to go along to my dad’s football and let the men smash balls at me in goal. It was brilliant. I have tried to tell Tom Heaton to take a step back, and not worry, I’ll do this.

"I think I was 14, I had to go back down to go with my own age group. I left that team and the new one already had a goalkeeper so I was playing all over the place.

"It wasn’t until I got to Paulton Rovers and Andrew Jones my old football manager there stuck me up front and it paid off ever since."

Barnes added: "I was decent. I’ve got enough trophies in the cabinet! I thought I was good back then, now times have changed. I can’t think of anything worse than being a goalkeeper!

"Back then, yes,I thought I would become a keeper, but you don’t ever know what position you will end up. I think as a kid it’s always good to play in different positions.

"No scouts were looking at me as goalkeeper. When I was 16 at Paulton Rovers I started playing up front. Then went and played for the men’s team.

"From there I had a few clubs. Ian Holloway offered me a professional contract at Plymouth when I turned 17.

"I've not put on any gloves ever since. I put the goalkeeping gloves in the bin and tried to find some goalscoring boots. I still haven’t found them now!"