I’ve had some time to reflect on my debut, it certainly was an experience. I’d put it up there as one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever faced on the pitch.
I knew I was in the travelling contingent for the game, but I didn’t know whether I’d be in the starting Xl. You always prepare yourself to start every game, you can’t go into a game unprepared or you’ll just fail, so I was ready. I don’t normally get nervous before a game, I guess it becomes second nature and I often joke with my mates it’s more nerve-racking making a big golf shot, but this was different.
My last game was a preseason friendly for Fleetwood Town against Kilmarnock at a university ground in front of around eight people, as a result stepping out in Istanbul at the Sukru Saracoglu seemed a daunting prospect. However, when I was given the nod these nerves soon vanished, the boss had put his trust in me and couldn’t wait to repay him.
I was probably fifth to walk out, the stadium was the loudest I’ve ever experienced, the Geordie faithful are loud, but not this loud, communication became difficult, even more so considering my French is fairly limited. You see it during the Champions League and Europa League games on TV when flares are thrown onto the pitch, I witnessed this first hand and the game was delayed for a few minutes – I can’t ever imagine this occurring in the English game.
As expected the army of Marseille fans that travelled were outstanding, these are proper football fans, the game is life and death to them and I am proud to play for their team.
I was happy with my performance and believe I acquitted myself well, considering my lengthy absence from the game, but with time my sharpness will return. I’m working hard to regain my fitness and I still believe my best football is ahead of me, there’s no doubt I’ve got a lot to give in Marseille shirt.
I started cramping up just before I came off but I was pleased to make it as far as I did. To get the result made it all the more satisfying, not many teams will go there and win, it kept up the momentum heading into the game against Evian.
The Europa League game gave me a taste and I’m hungry to play again, it was a shame I was unavailable for the Evian game, however it gave me the opportunity to take my lad and he loved the experienced. Photos from the game can be found at www.facebook.com/joe6barton.