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Where are they now? Dean Barrick

Dean Barrick, the former Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Cambridge United, Preston, Bury and Doncaster player is now living a new life as a PE teacher in Thailand.

Here, he talks about his career, the best player he's ever played against and breaking his leg in a cup final - and admits that he would rather stay in teaching than go back into management...

When you look back on your career as a professional footballer, how do you feel?

When I look back on my career I am very happy with what I managed to achieve. There is always the regret you never got a crack at a big club but generally my playing career was successful and I managed to be involved in some promotions.

What were the highlights of your pro career?

Winning the Third Division championship with Preston was the highlight because it meant we had proven we were the best team over the course of a season and I played over 40 games that year. I had gained promotion with Rotherham as runners up before so I was desperate to win it this time with Preston.

Which of your former clubs do you hold the most affection for and why?

I have fond memories of all my clubs but I have to say Doncaster because after I finished playing for them I got involved with BBC Radio Sheffield, doing match day summaries and commentaries. Those were fantastic times for the football club and it was a real honour to be a part of it. I did the commentaries on the last match at Belle View, the promotion back into the league at Stoke, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at the Millennium Stadium and the highlight was the play-off final against Leeds at Wembley.

Who was the best player you ever played with and why? And against?

David Hirst by a mile, at that time he was up there with the best centre forwards in Europe. He was strong, quick, could go past people, good in the air and could score amazing goals with both feet. Best player I've played against is Paul Gascoigne in his Tothenham days. It was almost as if the Premiership was too easy for him, he seemed to have more time than the rest of us on the field.

You played in Scotland briefly with Ayr, what was that experience like?

I enjoyed it a lot. We lost in the quarter finals of the Scottish FA Cup to Dundee United and missed a penalty, the semi-finals would have been against Rangers at Celtic's ground. Ayr made me an offer to stay but my children were at school in Yorkshire so I returned to Bury at the end of the season.

You had a spell as a player-manager with Hucknall Town, are you interested in managing again?

I will never say never but I think it’s highly unlikely now. There was a time when I was being linked with some professional clubs but I have been out of it for too long now and I really enjoy my job as a teacher.

You took Hucknall to the FA Trophy final in 2005, what do you recall about breaking your leg in that game?

It's quite funny really because I wasn't in any major pain considering my leg was pointing in a different direction than it should have been. I remember Jason Truscott the club physio asking me what I had done and I told him I had broken my leg. He asked me if I was sure and I said "just look at it" at which point he went a little white. It was tougher on my family who were at the game, my son was a mascot on the day and my daughter and parents were in the crowd along with a bus load of schoolchildren from my school in Doncaster. It wasn’t a nice experience for them to see me leave on a stretcher. I was just gutted we lost the match in the end and that I couldn't be there to watch it because that Hucknall team had achieved so much that season.

How long have you been a teacher?

This is my ninth year now - Five years in Doncaster, a year in Poland and I am just starting my third year in Thailand.

What was the experience of teaching in Poland like?

I really enjoyed Warsaw, I made some great friends there and I still go back every year but, although the school I worked at was excellent, it had no sporting facililities and I needed to move on in the end. I'll be back for the semi-final of the Euros next year though.

How did the opportunity in Thailand come up?  

I am subscribed to a website that emails me any PE jobs anywhere in the world and replied to an advert looking for a Director of Sport in Bangkok. I went over in February 2009 to look at the school and meet the headmaster. I was offered the job there and then and I started work there in the August. Thailand is an amazing country and I am so glad that more young people are choosing to visit. Every year more and more people are choosing to visit Thailand and thankfully its reputation is slowly changing.

What is Thailand like when it comes to football fans? 

They are mad on the Premiership and everyone is either Man U, Chelsea or Liverpool. I have watched a few Thai Premier League games here and the atmosphere is really good too.

Who is the best player who has ever played the game and why?

I never saw Pele play live obviously but he is widely respected as the best player ever. I saw the Brazillian team play at Leicester once with my son, and Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos walked out the tunnel at the same time - Joby, who was 10 at the time, said to me: "Now there's something you don’t see every day." Messi at the moment is on a different planet to everybody else, I saw him against Real Madrid last year and he was spotting passes for David Villa that were impossible.

What's the best goal you've ever scored?

For Doncaster against Telford. I scored a free-kick that nearly took the net off. Steve Palmer (my future Hucknall team mate) said he was on the end of the wall and was so glad it narrowly missed his head.

What's the best goal you've ever seen?

Roberto Carlos with an outside of the foot bending free-kick.

What do you make of what's going on with all the massive investment in football and huge salaries?

I have no problem at all with what the players get paid and I am pleased to see that a percentage of the investment still goes to the PFA, the players union. They put the money to good use, helping players who get injured or need academic courses to fall back on. I wish something could be done to reduce the cost of admission to the games though. 

How would you like to be remembered as a player?

I am pretty sure that anyone who watched me play would say they always felt I was giving my best for the team I was playing for. In the end that’s all you can ask of anybody and if that’s what the supporters felt about my career that will do for me.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? 

My ambitions now are more socially motivated than professional. I would like to travel the world and there are many places I would still like to visit. One of the things I have always wanted to do I managed to tick off when I watched the Boxing Day Test match at the MCG this year, and what a time to cross it off the list. Brazil beckons for the next World Cup.

Interview by Mark Roach 

PHOTO: Dean (middle of front row) pictured with his Hucknall Town team-mates before the 2005 FA Trophy final against Grays at Villa Park. 

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