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York City: Neil Barrett interview

Neil Barrett's move to Yorkshire might just be a giant step forward in his bid to re-join the Football League, with the southerner thriving after his switch to KitKat Crescent.

And it's also all-change off the field – the 28-year-old swapping loved-up life in London to a Minstermen lad's pad in York!

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Barrett's summer move from Kent club Ebbsfleet United left him with no option but to relocate to the White Rose county.

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However, unable to accompany him was fiance Rebecca – a flight attendant for Virgin Atlantic – and based at bustling airport London Heathrow.

The pair will tie the knot this summer yet the last six months have seen the lovebirds living apart, with Barrett now in a York house with team-mates Alex Lawless, James Meredith, Richard Pacquette and Daniel Parslow.

And while he was initially loath to leave his love nest, he actually quite enjoys it in York and is he is also conveniently too far away to get caught upin arranging a wedding!

Revealing the somewhat unusual situation, the Londoner told Yorkshire Sport: "It is a good laugh and it's funny as I wasn't too sure about it when the manager said to me in the summer 'you are going to get a house and there's a few of you going in there'.

"I was a bit apprehensive as I had been living with my girlfriend for two or three years so it felt like I was taking a couple of steps back.

"But it's really worked well and it's good fun – we all sit around watching football together and generally have a good laugh which has been great.

"I am getting married in the summer so it was a difficult decision as to what to do.

"But she is staying in London as her job is based there – she is cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic so she just works out of Heathrow.

"She comes up here more than I go down there, it's been a bit difficult trying to arrange a wedding being up here.

"I just get the grief over the phone for it, though she has done most of it to be honest. It's done me a favour being up here!

"We'll just see what happens regarding next year. I'd love to stay but obviously that's not up to me at the moment.

"My contract is up in the summer but things are going well here."

Midfielder Barrett is certainly blooming with the Minstermen – his seventh club as a professional and eight years on after his release from Chelsea's youth system.

The Tooting-born ace left Stamford Bridge to become a Championship regular for one season at Portsmouth before moving north of the border to play in the Scottish Premier League.

He started first with Dundee and and then switched to Livingston.

But the 5ft 10ins star was then hit by injury before resurrecting his career at Woking, moving on to Ebbsfleet where he made 74 appearances, before his transfer to York.

Now Barrett is hoping the move to KitKat Crescent is another step back up the professional ladder.

"I have been a bit disappointed to have had a couple of injuries which have set me back," he said.

"Especially when I was at Livingston, who were in the Scottish Premier League at the time, so that was obviously disappointing.

"Coming back up here has been great and it would be great to back in the league and hopefully it's with York City. Fingers crossed for that really."

Looking back at his days with Chelsea, he added: "At Chelsea, John Terry was in the year above me but there's not many to be honest who are still playing, certainly in my age group.

"Courtney Pitt is at Cambridge and Rhys Evans I think is at Bristol Rovers. That's it. It is just such a massive club Chelsea and at the time they had just started putting the money into the club.

"If they wanted players, they went out and bought them and you had to be at the top, the creme de le creme of your age group in the country for them to consider you.

"It was tough but it was a fantastic opportunity and I am so grateful for that – it's probably given me the opportunity to carry on playing football at this level."

Barrett certainly enjoyed his finest hour since his Chelsea and SPL days when giving the Minstermen a shock lead in this month's FA Cup clash at Stoke.

The City star is only frustrated that within minutes the Potters were back in front.

"I played at Celtic Park and Ibrox when I was up in Scotland which was good as you have 50 or 60,000 there," he said.

"But that wasn't the FA Cup and the FA Cup is such a massive competition and it's something that everyone grows up with.

"It was always going to be an uphill struggle at Stoke, but it was great for me to score.

"It was just a bit disappointing that we didn't hold on for that little bit longer. The whole day was great, it's just unfortunate that we couldn't maybe bring them back here and given them a game at home."

However, Barrett remains optimistic that the Minstermen can yet savour the biggest celebration of all – promotion to the Football League.

"I see no reason why we couldn't do that and we have got the fan-base here – the fans have been fantastic, especially at Stoke," he said.

"They have been fantastic all the way through the season so far and it would be good to do that to give something back to them.

"If we can keep ourselves in those play-off places and maybe get to the play-off final, I think that would be the ideal scenario – if we don't catch Oxford that is!"

That and a wedding – now that would be a summer to savour.

And, of course, with a flight attendant fiance, a cut-price honeymoon is certain to follow.

"We get flights where you just have to pay the tax which is good and we went to Bali in the summer which was quite nice," laughed Barrett.

"The perks are good!"

 
 
 

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