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Barnes On Legendary Maracana Moment

John Barnes has become a familiar face to South African football fans, who are fortunate to hear his insightful punditry on local television.

The Liverpool icon is a treat to listen to, with his informed and sometimes contentious opinions on everything that matters in modern football, from the tactics that make the game to the racism that blights it.

Watching admittedly rotund Barnes stuffed into his suit on Supersport, it’s easy to forget that he is one of Liverpool and England’s most legendary players.

From his left-sided position, he tormented defenders during Liverpool’s golden era in the 1980s, and to some fans he is arguably the club’s best ever player.

There has also never been another England left-wing quite like him, and his exploits for the Three Lions have come back into focus as they prepare to face Brazil at the Maracana in a friendly on Sunday.

29 years ago at the same venue- the spiritual home of Brazilian football- a fresh-faced Barnes stunned the Selecao with a goal of inordinate beauty, that typified the Jamaica-born wing wizard’s best abilities.

To this day, Barnes’ brilliant bolt against Brazil is branded as Britain’s best.

Picking up the ball with his chest on his favourite left-flank, he cut inside and embarked on a powerful, mazy dribbling run towards the home team’s goal.

Bamboozled Brazilian defenders tracked his run, but six of them were impervious to his jinking and close control, before the slightest drop of the shoulder left hapless ‘keeper Roberto Costa on the seat of his pants, for Barnes to roll the ball home.

Just 20 at the time and playing only his sixth game for England, Barnes would go on to represent his country 79 times, and become an icon at Anfield.

Shocked to the core after what turned into an unexpected 2-0 win for Bobby Robson’s England, the media claimed that “The Carnival Belonged to Barnes.”

Speaking to The Guardian on the eve of England’s return to the Maracana, Barnes says he hardly realised he had scored a cracker at the time, and credited Brazil’s sloppy defending for the goal, as much as his own brilliance.

 "I didn't know what I had done until I watched it back later and thought 'that looks all right'," he said.

"It has become iconic because it was in the Maracana, against Brazil, but if I'm being honest the Brazilians never put a tackle in. They probably thought no Englishman could do that. It was also just a friendly; had it been a World Cup match somebody would have tackled me around the neck."

"England have many more skilful players now than they did back then but the defenders are also better, so it would be harder to score like that unless you are [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi," Barnes added.

"If I was the Brazil manager back then I would not have been very happy with some of the challenges that came in.

"After beating one player I just wanted to pass the ball, but they let me keep going. Then after beating three players I thought 'that really is it now, please let me give the ball to someone else' until eventually I found myself in front of the goalkeeper. The Brazilians looked shocked."

Click HERE to watch John Barnes humiliate Brazil at the Maracana.

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