Ross Barkley is back to being healthy, back to playing regular football, and back in the England squad for the first time since March 2017, though he last featured in a Three Lions shirt way back in May 2016. That all might change in the next few days, as he reaps the latest rewards of his dedication to the cause and his dedication to prove right his decision to move to Chelsea.
Although he might need to adjust that work-life balance a bit.
“The training ground is only half an hour away too and we often train late in the afternoon so I’m usually one of the first ones at the training ground and one of the last to leave, because I just love football. Usually, by the time we’ve trained and I’ve had treatment and eaten at the training ground, it might be six or seven o’clock so when I’m back home around eight, I’ll just put my feet up and be ready for the next day.”
All work and no play — ah, the glamorous life of a professional footballer.
In his feature for The FA’s website, Barkley does talk about hanging out with his mates, going out on the town, and getting regular visits from his family, but his life in West London sounds very much like the classic tale of a young man moving away from home for the first time ever. And in a way, that’s exactly what he did soon after turning 24 last December. It was the change of scenery, away from the comforts and the routine of everything he had known, that many said his career needed, and now those prognostications are appearing to be coming true.
“On a personal level, I’m really enjoying my time with Chelsea. It was a big change for me, moving down to London because I’m a Liverpool lad through and through. But it’s football and I’ve been working to do this ever since I was a young kid and making the move away, it was never an issue for me and I feel like I’ve already been there for a long time now.
“It’s all helped me mature as a person and a player too. I moved down to London on my own and I live just off the King’s Road, so I can even walk to Stamford Bridge, which I used to do last season before we stay overnight for the games at the moment.
“It’s great living there, I haven’t got any kids or anything yet, so I just wanted to experience living in west London. I like to get out when I can, I go out for food with my team-mates, sometimes my mates will come down and stay with me and I have my family to visit a couple of times a month.
“It’s so multi-cultural in London, there’s people from all over the world, so it’s just easy to go out and walk around and if I ever want to get back to Liverpool for a day or two, it doesn’t take long to get to Euston for the train.”
It’s certainly a big change that most of us can probably relate to on some level, but none of that will distract him from the main purpose at the moment. Barkley’s making a reputation for himself at Chelsea as a hard-worker and his dedication appears singular in its laser-sharp focus. Every player, every person is built differently, and if this is what works for him, then it’s all the better for us.
“I’ve seen that [things can change quickly in football] probably more than most people over the past couple of years and I know now that the way things are today, they’re not always going to be that way. It’s been a frustrating few years for me, but I believe you just have to work hard and good things will come to you down the line.
“I’ve worked hard over the last few months and it was important for me to make a strong start to the season and kick-on with a run in the team. I’m back into the routine of training and playing games, getting prepared mentally and physically for games and I’ve played a part in almost all the matches this season so I’m feeling really good and confident and I want to keep that going all season.
“[...] it’s great to be back again with England and I just want to keep improving and keep it going, starting with this week’s games.”
-Ross Barkley; source: The FA
It’s nice to see his efforts rewarded, and in turn, his effort rewarding the team. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for?