The 17-year-old was part of a teenage Aston Villa team, an average of 18 years old, who were beaten in the third round of the English FA Cup by Liverpool on Friday. The FA Cup, which was founded in 1871, is the association’s oldest national cup competition. Against a strong Liverpool team that included Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, among others, Villa was forced to field a team of teenagers after the club suffered a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this week. The 11 players who started the game for Villa all made their first-team debuts.
“Our experience with this situation over the past two days has been a frightening scenario as we went from 100% negative to 14 cases on January 1st,” Christian Purslow, Villa CEO, told BT Sport.
“Many of the players are so young tonight that their mothers and fathers will leave them at Villa Park.”
Liverpool took the lead early with Mane’s header, but a wonderful solo goal from Barry kept Villa on the same level at halftime.
Midfielder Thiago Alcantara came on for Liverpool early in the second half and his introduction had a positive impact on the guests. Goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Salah as well as another header from Mane ensured the victory of Jürgen Klopp’s team.
But it was Barry’s goal and his post-game interviews, in which he understandably couldn’t stop smiling, that embodied the panache and power of the Villa performance.
“I think the team deserved it because we adjusted to half and even the second half,” a beaming Barry, who joined the team in Birmingham from Barcelona last year, told Villa TV.
“When I scored a goal it was a surreal moment. You could see all the relief from me and the team, everyone jumping on each other.
“It was the best moment of my life and probably your life too.”
After the game, Barry swapped shirts with Liverpool international Fabinho before the teen began worrying about not keeping the top he made his debut in.
He ran after Fabinho, who then gave Barry back his Villa jersey – and let the 17-year-old keep the top of the Liverpool defender.
“The kids did it really well,” said Klopp. “We had problems passing and moving. Too many on the wrong side of the ball, not enough pass recoveries.
“We had chances and shot straight at the goalkeeper. It was rusty in the second half, but better. We have a lot of players without a rhythm.”
READ: Premier League stars convicted of breaching Covid-19 ban
Earlier this week, the English Premier League announced 40 new positive Covid-19 cases among players and club employees in its final test round – more than twice as many as in the previous week.
In a statement on Tuesday, the league said that between December 28 and 31, 1,311 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19 – of which there were 28 new positive tests.
From January 1st to 3rd, Covid-19 tests were carried out on 984 players and club staff, with 12 tests showing positive results.
It’s the first week that players and club staff have been tested for Covid-19 twice a week.
As of Tuesday, four Premier League games this season have been postponed due to Covid-19 issues.
The league added that it “continues to have confidence in its COVID-19 protocols, which are fully supported by the government, so that the games can be played as planned”.