With Michal Helik in pole position to become the first Red to play at the European Championships, we look at the current and former Oakwell heroes selected for the tournament
MICHAL HELIK – POLAND
BARNSLEY’S recruitment department and chief executive are not shocked Helik has made history by reaching the European Championships as a Barnsley player but were surprised they were able to sign him last summer.
The Poland defender – the first Barnsley player ever to be selected for the Euros – signed from Cracovia on his 25th birthday in September, having played in the Europa League earlier in the season.
After being sent off on his league debut at Reading then dropped in December after some errors, he was one of the Reds’ best players in the second half of the campaign.
He was voted Player of the Year by fans, having scored six goals from centre-back and finished in the division’s top five for clearances, interceptions and headers won.
“To have a player at the Euros shows how we are progressing as a club,” Reds chief executive Dane Murphy told the Chronicle.
“It’s another amazing achievement this season by a Barnsley player.
“Michal Helik’s performance throughout the year was fantastic and I think he could have been recognised a little bit more domestically.
“He’s now heading to the Euros and starting for Poland in friendlies.
“Honestly, we saw it in him and thought we were getting a steal when we signed him in the summer.
“We were lucky to get him and surprised no one had taken a chance on him earlier.
“The progress he’s made since coming to England and playing in our system has been nothing short of remarkable and the guy deserves his success.”
Helik made his international debut for Poland in March in a 3-3 draw in Hungary in a World Cup qualifier.
He was substituted before the hour mark as he was the next week at Wembley having given away a penalty for a foul on Raheem Sterling in a 2-1 loss to England.
He was named in the squad for the European Championships then played 90 minutes in a 1-1 friendly draw with Russia last week then was an unused substitute against Iceland on Tuesday this week. Poland are due to play their first group game against Slovakia on Monday in St Petersburg before travelling to Seville to face Spain on June 19 then taking on Sweden back in St Petersburg four days later.
JOHN STONES – ENGLAND
THE THURLSTONE man is at his third major tournament as he looks to put the disappointment of a Champions League final defeat behind him with a successful summer for England.
The 27-year-old centre-back had an excellent season for Manchester City, winning back his place for club and country after two difficult campaigns then claiming a third Premier League title and becoming the first Barnsley man to play in the Champions League final.
His side lost to Chelsea but he has since joined up with England.
Stones has 42 caps and was signed by Manchester City for £47.5million from Everton, who recruited him from the Reds after 28 appearances for his hometown club.
Stephen Foster, Stones’ former team-mate at Oakwell, said: “No one’s football career is always a smooth ride and John’s been through a down spell but he’s picked himself up, worked hard and shown what a quality player he is.
“The partnership with Ruben Dias seems to have helped and he’s flourishing. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he can impress again for England in a major tournament.
“John has probably been guilty of his decision-making not being spot on which it has be to be at the level he is at now.
“He had such high standards that any little drop in form is magnified.
“But he seems to have found that nice mix between being a footballing centre-back and being switched on and keeping clean sheets.
“It’s so great to see a Barnsley lad do so well.
“He was always one of those lads who was prepared to listen and learn.
“That was even more impressive than his natural talent.”
The year after he left Oakwell, Stones was on standby for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, then he was selected for Euro 2016 in France but did not play.
He was a regular in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, netting his only two international goals so far in the 6-1 win against Panama before Gareth Southgate’s side lost in the semi-final.
Stones’ fellow Barnsley man and a former Reds player and coach Dale Tonge said: “You can’t be anything but proud of the boy.
“I played against him for Rotherham against Barnsley in a pre-season friendly. He was just a big beanpole at right-back but you could see he wasn’t a right-back. He was quite elegant considering how tall and skinny he was.
“What he’s achieved is incredible. Hopefully he can help the national team do the business this summer.”
KIERAN TRIPPER – ENGLAND
A PROFESSIONAL career that began with a loan spell at Barnsley could peak this summer as the right-back looks to follow a Spanish league title with Euros glory for England.
Now 30, Trippier was 19 when Mark Robins’ Barnsley loaned him from Manchester City in February 2010.
He played three times in losses to Middlesbrough, Plymouth Argyle and Scunthorpe United but had done enough to return on a season-long loan in 2011/12.
He played 44 matches, scoring late equalisers in Yorkshire derby draws at Leeds United then at home to Doncaster Rovers.
Trippier then moved to Burnley where he established himself as a Premier League player before signing for Tottenham Hotspur where he spent four years, finishing with a Champions League final loss in 2019.
He then moved to Atletico Madrid for £20million where he has been a crucial part of their team that won the La Liga title. Stephen Foster, who played with Trippier at Barnsley, said: “I remember his debut at Middlesbrough and I didn’t know what to expect.
“But, very soon into the game, I realised I didn’t have to worry because the young lad had a lot of confidence which he backed up with great ability.
“Tripps was a big character with a great personality. He was well-liked in the squad and fitted in easily.
“I can’t say I haven’t been surprised that he’s gone on to play for Tottenham and England and Atletico Madrid, but he seems to have taken every step in his stride. He was one of the best crossers of the ball I ever played with. He was very mature for a young lad. I met his dad a couple of times who was a lovely, supportive character. I feel privileged to have played with players like him and John Stones. I don’t know if they were able to take any lessons from a player like me, but I enjoyed playing alongside both of them and I haven’t got a bad word to say about either of them as people. It’s very pleasing to see them doing so well.”
Trippier has 28 England caps, after impressing in the World Cup in 2018 including with a superb free-kick goal in the semi-final loss to Croatia. In that tournament, three of England’s starting defence had been at Oakwell in some capacity as Stones spent a decade in the youth system and was joined for a short time by Harry Maguire.
ADAM DAVIES – WALES
THE FORMER Reds captain, who spent five years at Oakwell, is one of three goalkeepers in the Wales squad.
Davies, who will be 29 next month, joined Barnsley in 2014 from Sheffield Wednesday who never gave him a debut.
He played 209 games for the Reds, helping them to promotion in both 2016 then, after relegation, in 2019 as captain before he moved to Stoke City that summer at the end of his contract.
Davies had to wait more than a year for his league debut for the Potters but played the final four games of last season.
He started this season as number one and played in a 2-2 draw with the Reds in October then, after another spell out of the team, played the last nine matches.
Davies made his international debut while a Barnsley player in a 2019 friendly then played in a World Cup qualifier in Bulgaria last October.
Dale Tonge, who was assistant coach for the 2019 promotion, said: “You couldn’t wish to meet a better pro than Davo.
“He got on with his work every day and led the boys without being a shouter and screamer.
“He was excellent in the promotion season and got in the (League One) team of the year.
“I still speak to him and he has found it difficult at Stoke.
“It was good to see him back in the side at the end of the season and hopefully he can help them compete for promotion next season.”
The other goalkeepers in the Wales squad are Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey and Leicester’s Danny Ward, neither of whom played a league game for their club this season.
KIEFFER MOORE – WALES
THE TALL striker had some of the best and worst moments of his career so far with Barnsley, scoring 19 goals in their 2018/19 promotion season while also suffering a ‘career-threatening’ head injury.
The 28-year-old, who netted 21 goals in 54 Reds games, was knocked out in the 4-1 loss at Gillingham and taken to hospital. But he returned for the final games of the season and promotion celebration before being sold for about £4million to Wigan.
Despite relegation due to a points deduction which saved Barnsley, he finally proved himself as a regular scorer at Championship level last season after struggling to do so with Yeovil, Ipswich and the Reds.
He then moved to Cardiff and netted 20 goals which was the fourth most in the Championship in 2020/21, including an equaliser at Oakwell in a 2-2 January draw.
He received his first Wales call-up in May 2019 when still a Barnsley player and has made 17 appearances with five goals.
Dale Tonge said: “It just cements the hard work and self-belief he showed when he went through that horrific, career-threatening injury.
“He’s probably the main number nine for Wales which is testament to how driven and single-minded he is.
“You know someone like that is only going to succeed.
“He’s got everything. A lot of people don’t realise how quick he is. Technically he is excellent with both feet and his hold-up play is as good as it gets and he’s obviously big and strong. He’s a complete number nine now.”
Wales are due to play Switzerland tomorrow then Turkey on Wednesday, both in Azerbaijan, before taking on Italy in Rome the following Sunday.
FOOTBALLERS WHO HAVE BEEN TO THE EUROS AND PLAYED FOR BARNSLEY
DAVID JOHNSON – ENGLAND
The Liverpool striker was England’s number nine at the 1980 European Championships.
He started in the 1-1 draw against Belgium then did not play again as England lost 1-0 to hosts Italy to crash out early. He was loaned to Barnsley four years later and played four times, scoring in a 2-1 win at Leeds United.
VIV ANDERSON – ENGLAND
The future Barnsley manager, who had just won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest, joined Johnson in the 1980 squad.
He was brought into Roy Greenwood’s side once they had been eliminated, for the final group game against Spain which they won 2-1.
Anderson was also included in the Euro 88 squad, when a Manchester United player, but did not play as Bobby Robson’s England lost all three group games and once again were knocked out with a game to spare. He was then the Reds’ player/manager in 1993/94.
MICK MCCARTHY – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The Worsbrough man qualified for the Republic of Ireland through his father and made his international debut in May 1984, months after he left Barnsley for Manchester City.
McCarthy played all three games at Euro 88 in West Germany, including their opening match which saw Jack Charlton’s side beat England 1-0 thanks to an early Ray Houghton strike.
He helped to silence an England attack that featured Gary Lineker, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Bryan Robson.
But the Republic lost the lead in a 1-1 draw with the Soviet Union, then conceded a late goal in a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands so finished third in the group behind the two eventual finalists.
McCarthy almost returned to the Euros as Ireland manager but his side lost to Turkey in the play-offs in 2000 then, in his second spell, he helped them to the play-offs for this tournament but was replaced as manager before they lost to Slovakia.
JAN MOLBY – DENMARK
Denmark’s two best Euros campaigns came at the wrong ends of the Liverpool legend’s career.
He was just a 21-year-old in 1984 in France when he was included in the squad but did not make an appearance as Denmark reached the semi-finals but lost on penalties to Spain.
Then, after winning regular silverware with the Anfield club, he was starting to fade out of the first team by the time the Danes won Euro 92.
He played in qualifying matches but was not selected for the final tournament.
Molby then played five games on loan to Barnsley in the 1995/96 season.
KEITH CURLE – ENGLAND
The centre-back played three games for the Three Lions in 1992, the last of which was as a right-back in a 0-0 draw with eventual champions Denmark in their first game of that year’s Euros.
Selected after a fine first season with Manchester City, Curle was not involved again as England also drew 0-0 with France then lost the lead in a 2-1 defeat to Sweden which meant they finished bottom of that group.
Curle would never play for England again but, a decade later aged 35, he would play 11 games for Barnsley.
He signed in August 2002 when the Reds had just been relegated to the third tier.
He lasted just two months, playing 11 games before moving to Mansfield Town with whom he returned two months later to win 1-0 at Oakwell.
EMIL HALLFREDSSON – ICELAND
The winger spent the 2009/10 season at Oakwell, on loan from Italian club Reggina, playing 27 games and scoring three goals – against Newcastle United, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford.
That was his only spell outside Italy in the last 14 years.
He was in Iceland’s squad for their first major tournament at Euro 2016, when they famously defeated England, but only
made one substitute appearance against Hungary in the group stage.
Hallfredsson then played in the 2018 World Cup and has 73 Iceland caps, including some this season aged 36.
He now plays for third tier Padova.