Friday’s Forgotten Footballer: Barry Venison

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

barry venison
Name: Barry Venison
Date of Birth: 16th August, 1964
Position: Defender
Clubs: Sunderland, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Galatasary, Southampton.

Barry Venison is best remembered as the face of ITV football. Whilst he was no Andy Gray or Alan Hansen, his input was appreciated and he became a popular figure amongst the viewing public.

On reflection, he was certainly on a level above the obtuse punditry that we now see on the BBC and Sky. His contributions were often undermined by a flamboyant dress sense and an ‘interesting’ haircut. The blonde mullet he sported during his playing days bore little resemblance to what one would expect of a tough defender’s appearance.

Many, though, forget that Venison forged a successful career for himself, playing at illustrious British clubs and later tasting a sample of Turkish football, if only for a brief period.

He was born in Durham and it came as no surprise to see him start his career at Sunderland. He was first earned a place in the Black Cats’ first team at the tender age of 17 where he made an instant impact.

His growing contribution to the team was highlighted when he captained the Wearsiders to the League Cup final in 1985. Unfortunately for Venison he was unable to steer his side towards glory, and the season finished on a sour note as they lost to Norwich City and Sunderland were relegated from the old Division Two.

The 21-year-old asked for a transfer after a year plying his trade in the second tier and Liverpool’s newly appointed Kenny Daglish acted quickest as he signed the young right back for the double winners.

After originally cementing his place in the side in his debut season at Anfield, Venison struggled to hold down a regular starting slot in the intermittent years before he joined Newcastle. Nevertheless he still played an important role and enjoyed success with the Merseyside club, winning the Championship twice, an FA Cup and four Charity Shields.

In 1992, Venison departed Liverpool and joined the ranks at St James Park under the management of Kevin Keegan. Newcastle United had a fruitful season, cantering to the summit and ensuring their place in the following Premier League campaign.

Upon the Toon’s return to the top flight, Venison continued to feature heavily and United finished in third place with Venison receiving the captain’s armband.

Terry Venables selected the Newcastle United defender to feature in two England friendlies against the USA and Uruguay. It was the only two caps which Venison would earn as he was a late newcomer to the international scene at the age of 30.

He played for both Galatasary and Southampton in his later years before retiring to the Sky sofa. He soon moved to ITV where he became a regular.

Venison has been off British screens for several years. Since his days in front of the camera, he has helped found a business called ‘Bid4Sport’, a website where fans are able to purchase sporting and celebrity memorabilia, with a share of the proceeds donated to worthy charitable causes.

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