As a 15-year-old soccer player in England with Premier League dreams, Warren Barton was told he was too small, that he would never make a professional squad. But Barton was unwilling to have his dreams deferred and after much hard work and sacrifice, he made it the pros, enjoying an 18-year-career as a defender who once fetched a then-record $9 million in a trade.
Barton, fresh from London, has been a Rancho Santa Fe resident since May when his wife and three sons moved into their dream home in Fairbanks Ranch. Retired from playing since 2005, he now travels to Los Angeles three days a week where he works as a soccer pundit covering Premier League games for Fox Soccer Channel. His new job just started on Aug. 16, with the start of the Premier League season.
"I've always been drawn to soccer, it's in my blood," said Barton. "I was lucky enough to get paid to play a sport I love, it's the biggest thrill in the world. What's great now, I get to watch it and talk about it and get paid for it."
The bulk of his career was played with Premier League teams Wimbeldon and Newcastle United. On the field, Barton did battle with well-known Premier League players like Zinedine Zadan, Frank Lampard, John Terry and David Beckham.
He started playing soccer at age 9, playing up through the school's programs. His first professional playing experience came with Maidstone United when he was 18 years old. After pushing through the disappointment of being told he would never make it, it was a satisfying opportunity.
"It was the best feeling," said Barton. "All I had wanted to be was a soccer player."
From Maidstone he went to Wimbeldon in 1990. Barton joined the Wimbeldon team at a time when the team was known as "The Crazy Gang," which was every bit as wild as it sounds.
Barton spent five years there before being moved to Newcastle FC, the trade when he became the league's most expensive defender. In Newcastle, the team was the big game in town and they were beloved by the locals, think Los Angeles Lakers. The team was known as "The Entertainers" and were all glitz and glamour, Barton said.
Barton's eight year stretch with Newcastle was time that he cherished as the team was a championship contender making it to the FA Cup Finals in 1998 and 1999.
"It was fantastic," said Barton. "It was an exciting time and it was the most successful time I'd ever had."
Being outside of playing soccer has allowed Barton to explore other options. Always comfortable in front of a TV camera, in 2005 he started working for Sky TV in England, covering Premier League and the Spanish team La Liga. He also hosted a soccer show on the BBC network.
Now with Fox, Barton will do pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage. Barton hopes to raise the profile of American coverage of the Premier League.
Barton and his wife Candy had spent many vacations in America and had always entertained options of moving to the country.
They had a scary episode in October, when their Fairbanks Ranch home was in escrow while the Witch Creek Fire was whipping through the area. Luckily all worked out well and his children Milo, 10 and Kane, 8 will now attend Horizon Prep this fall and are already signed up for Rancho Santa Fe Soccer. His youngest, Tye, who is four, has not yet started to play but Barton said he is already talking about it.
While it was hard to leave England, Barton believes they are in America to stay.
"We feel we're home," Barton said, who admits he's been cheering for his new country in the Olympics.
Recently Barton, who holds a coaching license from the Union of European Football Association, has started working with the Los Angeles Galaxy as a coach for their academy league a few times a week. His goal is to set clinics up locally and also to serve as a private coach for area players who are looking to improve their game.
"I like trying to help individual players, see their talent and nurture it," said Barton. "I feel that I can give a lot back."
Anyone interested is welcome to give him a call at (858) 736-5044 or e-mail