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Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 11:45 UK

I want to be role model - Barton

Joey Barton
Barton wants to turn things around in a Newcastle shirt

Controversial Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton, 26, hopes he can transform his reputation and become a role model.

Barton was jailed for assault and banned for attacking a team-mate and says he is in "the last-chance saloon".

He told BBC Sport that because of his experiences he may be able to reach out to people, saying: "Hopefully I can be the role model I've never been."

"My reputation will precede me until the day I die and for some people that can't come soon enough," he added.

Barton, who was jailed for assault and affray earlier this year, could return to action against Sunderland on Saturday after finishing a six-game ban for assaulting Ousmane Dabo in 2007 when he was at Manchester City.

"There's going to be young kids who look at the likes of Michael Owen and Beckham, who are unbelievable professionals, squeaky clean, and they can't relate to them," Barton told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I've met people on the street, met people while I was in prison, and they can relate to you.

Barton has turned a corner - Kinnear

"When I speak from experience about the things I've done wrong in my life and how I've tried to change them, I think they respect that.

"Hopefully I'll be able to reach them people who, maybe before, were a little unreachable."

Barton was released from prison in Manchester three months ago and began his comeback in a reserve fixture for Newcastle on Tuesday.

He said he deserves "every bit of criticism that was labelled at me".

"I've had more chances than anyone deserves. It's last-chance saloon and I'm just thankful to have that chance," he added.

Barton, who is getting support from the Sporting Chance clinic, conceded many of his problems have been alcohol-related but said he has not had a drink for 10 months and is optimistic about his recovery.


"The main thing for me is staying sober. I feel so good about the future. If I could go back and change things I would but I can't," he said.

"All I can do is do what's in the future and try to help or soothe or repay my debts for what I've done wrong."

Barton was last in first team action when he came off the bench in what proved to be Kevin Keegan's last game in charge, the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on 30 August.

He stressed he was desperate not to let down all those who had shown faith in him and emphasised his hopes to be "a shining beacon for kids who had been in trouble".

For what I lack in ability and all kinds of other things I try to make up for with hard work and that's all I can do

Joey Barton

"The last 18 months have been hell," he said. "I got out of jail, got back to St James's Park, was booed by the fans and wasn't playing particularly well.

"I somehow felt the strength to come through it and start putting in some performances. But you don't just come out of prison and see the light - it's a work in progress.

"All I wanted to do all my life is play football - I live and breathe the game.

"As soon as I get back on the football pitch I will endeavour to give my all - I always give everything.

"For what I lack in ability - and all kinds of other things - I try to make up for with hard work and that's all I can do."

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see also
Barton could make return in derby
21 Oct 08 |  Newcastle
Banned Barton to miss six matches
05 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Barton sidelined until FA hearing
23 Aug 08 |  Newcastle
Barton faces action over assault
15 Aug 08 |  England
Barton admits to violent conduct
13 Aug 08 |  Newcastle
FA charges Barton over Dabo clash
31 Jul 08 |  Newcastle
Magpies to discuss Barton future
01 Jul 08 |  Newcastle
Barton is sentenced for assault
01 Jul 08 |  England
Keegan will support Barton - Lee
21 May 08 |  Newcastle
Barton admits team-mate assault
30 Jun 08 |  England

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Telegraph Joey Barton wants to repay debt to Newcastle following ban - 17 hrs ago
Telegraph Barton: I want to repay debt to Newcastle - 17 hrs ago
Sky Sports Barton makes Magpies vow - 19 hrs ago
Eat Sleep Sport Newcastle United: Barton ready for Toon recall - 22 hrs ago
Mirror Joey Barton exclusive: Newcastle bad boy declares himself fit for derby day comeback against Sunderland - 24 hrs ago