English soccer midfielder Joey Barton looks forward to playing for Marseille
After a controversial spell at QPR, he says he's lucky to be given another chance
English midfielder Joey Barton is looking forward to a new start after sealing his transfer to Ligue 1 giants Marseille on a season-long loan from Queens Park Rangers.
Barton was introduced to the media in Marseille on his 30th birthday and the former Manchester City and Newcastle United player said he was lucky to be given a chance to prove himself in France after a controversy-marred spell at QPR.
"I'm delighted to get the opportunity to join a club of this size, to see the stadium and the Commanderie [Marseille's training ground]. It is very impressive," he said.
"The minute I spoke about their interest for me, I said yes. I've been stupid on a number of occasions. The people who know me know what kind of teammate I am," he said when questioned about his chequered past, which included a spell in prison for assault and a fight with Ousmane Dabo when at Manchester City that left his French teammate needing hospital treatment.
However, Barton said he had been made to feel welcome by the French media since his arrival at the end of last week.
"It's really nice if the press thinks I'm a nice guy. In France they judge me fairly," he said.
In moving to France, Barton follows in the footsteps of Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at Lille from Liverpool.
"I've seen quite a lot of Marseille, they're a very big club," he said. "They played in the Champions League, they've had a lot of TV exposure in England.
"I remember watching them when I was 10 or 11, and the [Champions League-winning] 1993 side with [Didier] Deschamps, [Basile] Boli, [Alen] Boksic … I can also remember watching this team in the last few years when they played against Manchester United or Liverpool."
Barton, who watched Marseille's 3-1 home win against Rennes on Sunday, is serving a 12-match ban after being found guilty of two charges of violent conduct while playing for QPR in the 3-2 defeat to Manchester City on the last day of last season.
As a result, he will have to wait until November to make his debut for his new club. "I've been on vacation too long, for 10 weeks, which is not good," he said. "I need to improve my body physically and obviously I have a suspension. The most important thing for me is to get my level of fitness to the maximum."