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John Barnes opens up on guilt he felt after Hillsborough disaster as 97 fans died

John Barnes and his teammates watched the horrifying events unfold during their 1989 FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest. The tragedy would cost 97 fans their lives

John Barnes on Kate Garraway's Life Stories
John Barnes on Kate Garraway’s Life Stories

Liverpool legend John Barnes has told how he was racked with guilt after the Hillsborough disaster, knowing fans who had gone to see him play were killed in the crush.

John and his teammates watched the horrifying events unfold during their 1989 FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest. The tragedy would cost 97 fans their lives.

Speaking on ITV ’s Life Stories the ex-England winger said it was hard to talk about, even now.

He said: “At the time it was strange… there were always games where fans seemed squashed – because you have barriers.

“So when I saw them just before we came off… and in fact, they have this iconic picture of two Liverpool fans, girls we’d known, and they’re squashed and I thought that looks uncomfortable.







Liverpool’s John Barnes faced by Forest defender Des Walker in 1989
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Image:

Mirrorpix)

“That’s what I thought, because we’re so used to fans treated like cattle. Then people started to spill on to the pitch.”

John, 58, says it soon became clear the game could not continue.

He added: “We went into the players’ lounge and you can see the pitch, that’s when I realised how terrible it was. We saw bodies, people on stretchers. You see little kids and think about your children.

“Then of course, the irrational guilt, you know, feeling that they’ve come to watch me play they’re not going home.”







Floral tributes left at Hillsborough Stadium
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Image:

Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

When John got home to his son, Jamie, he “just got in bed with him and hugged… thinking, ‘Thank God he’s here.’”

On the show John also speaks about racism and the infamous picture of him backheeling a banana skin off the pitch:

“I don’t even remember [it],” he said. “It would happen whenever we played.”

Kate Garraway’s Life Stories airs tonight at 9pm, on ITV.

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