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Rooney duets with Ed Sheeran

The Toe Poke
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By ESPN Staff

Barry: O'Neill saved my Aston Villa career

Gareth Barry has revealed just how close he came to quitting Aston Villa before Martin O'Neill's arrival at the club.

The 25-year-old is arguably in the form of his life, one of a number of Villa players to have been revitalised by the motivational Northern Irishman.

But, as his side prepare for this afternoon's trip to fellow Premiership high-fliers Portsmouth, Barry admits he could well have joined Harry Redknapp's outfit during the summer.

'The prospect of joining Portsmouth was very tempting,' Barry said in The Times.

'It was the closest I've come to leaving this club because they made a couple of sizeable bids and if I'd intimated I wanted to leave, I think it would have happened.

'We had a quick chat pre-season and he (Martin O'Neill) told me he would be changing things.

'He said it wouldn't happen overnight but it might be an idea, even if I just took until Christmas, to have a look at how it was going.

'He also said he thought he could improve my game and push the club on.

'After being here for nine years, would I miss an opportunity?'