World of Sport

Joey Barton: Sweet and tender or nasty traitor?

World of Sport

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The picture posted on Barton's Twitter account @Joey7Barton

Marseille fans had a special message for Joey Barton after he signed for the French club on loan from QPR.

Barton was in the stands to watch his new team go top of the table with a 3-1 victory over Rennes, and tweeted the above picture of a banner from the stands.

The banner said 'Welcome Sweet And Tender Hooligan' which is a reference to a song from Barton's favourite band The Smiths.

"I already love the fans of L'OM. The Smiths banner is impressive? Non?" wrote Barton on Twitter after posting the picture.

Barton said he was excited about playing in the French league after his troubled spell at QPR which saw him banned for 12 matches to start the season after his red card and subsequent behaviour in Rangers' final match of last season against Manchester City.

"I've come to Marseille to win trophies," Barton told French sports paper L'Equipe.

"I don't come for holidays or as a tourist. It is a challenge for me not only on a professional level but also personally, discovering a new culture.

"Did I have other contacts? Yes, I talked to Fenerbahce and Valencia. But I didn't hesitate long when Marseille came, it was a good challenge for me."

However, not everybody is happy to see Barton arrive in France.

His former team-mate at Manchester City, Ousmane Dabo, blasted his homeland for being so welcoming to Barton, calling the Liverpudlian 'a nasty traitor.'

Barton was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence in 2007 after assaulting Dabo during training.

"He is nasty, a traitor. Sometimes I get the impression we have rolled out the red carpet for him. I speak to remind people that Barton is a very violent player, far from the image he tries to portray since arriving at Marseille," Dabo told L'Equipe.

"We condemned Jeremy Menez, Samir Nasri and Yann M'Vila for little things and then the French media is very forgiving with someone who has committed horrible things, as recently as May. No one wanted him in England . . . that means there is probably a reason.

"(With our history) There was a trial, he pleaded guilty and accepted a four-month suspended sentence. When he speaks, he denies it, he said I initiated it. All the team members present during the assault testified in my favour.

"He says he is a man, a bad boy, but he is just a coward."

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Joey Barton (L) next to French football club Marseille's sporting director Jose Anigo AFP

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