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09th Jan 2021

Louie Barry on Fabinho’s sound post-match gesture after jersey swap mix-up

Patrick McCarry

“He could have bottled it, but he did everything right.”

Michael Owen could not get over the performance of 17-year-old Aston Villa star Louie Barry after he scored a cracker in his side’s FA Cup defeat to Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp put out big-hitters like Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, Sadio Mané, Mo Salah and James Milner against a Villa side containing all U18 and U23 academy players, and none of whom that had a senior start to their name. Villa were forced to field the youthful team [three of the starting XI were not born when Milner made his pro debut in 2002] because the senior squad had been hit by a “serious” Covid-19 outbreak.

It looked ominous for the team managed by Villa academy coach Mark Delaney when Mané scored after only four minutes. However, for all of the Liverpool possession they enjoyed, they could not pull further clear. On 41 minutes, Barry was slipped through on goal and got his body in front of the last defender before coolly slotting past Caoimhin Kelleher in the Reds’ goal.

“We did say if Louie got his chance, he’d show what he can do,” Delaney told BT Sport after the game, which Villa eventually lost 4-1. “He does something like that in training every day.”

A second from Mané, and goals from Wijnaldum and Salah settled the contest after the break, but the Villa youngsters did themselves proud. Liverpool advanced to the fourth round but much of the talk from the pundits was about the Villa players and, in particular, Barry.

A Villa fan growing up, Barry was with West Brom’s youth set-up for three years before a season-long stint with Barcelona. He has played U15 and U16 for Ireland, with whom he holds a passport, but he has recently lined out for England’s U17 and U18 sides.

“Happy to score and hopefully the first of many more,” he told BT Sport.

“When I celebrated, everything came out of me. There was a lot of emotion, mostly relief… When I scored, I thought, We could have a chance here’.

“It was a great experience over there, (at Barcelona) but I’ve gotta come to the club I’ve loved my whole life. And my dad.”

Following the final whistle, as Thiago Alcantara waited to give him a fist bump and some words of praise, Barry sought out Fabinho and asked if he would swap jerseys. The Brazilian duly obliged and gave up his No.3 for Barry’s No.61.

Louie Barry swaps jerseys with Fabinho. (Credit: BT Sport)

One of Barry’s coaches reminded him that he had just given away his senior debut jersey, something he might want to hang onto. BT cameras showed Barry catching up with Fabinho in the tunnel and asking for his jersey back.

Fabinho took the request in good spirits and Barry had his Villa jersey back. Wearing it when interviewed, the teenager revealed that Fabinho had been extra sound. Asked by Des Kelly if he had almost given away the precious claret jersey, he replied:

“Nearly, but I remembered that it was my debut shirt! Credit to Fabinho, he gave me his shirt too. So I got them both.”

You have to hand it to Fabinho for tracking back to the ‘Home’ dressing room and giving the Villa youngster the jersey he so obviously wanted. For Barry, he will dearly hope to get another chance, and more, to share the pitch with such players again.

Good, wholesome content right there.