Everton manager Roberto Martinez has dubbed Gareth Barry “one of the best English players ever”.
The Toffees secured a crucial 2-1 lead in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tie against Manchester City on Wednesday, with Barry playing the full 90 minutes.
Speaking after the Goodison Park clash, Martinez was effusive in his praise of the 34-year-old.
“I have never seen a player with such an incredible professionalism as Gareth Barry,” Martinez told BBC Sport. “Gareth is one of those players who gets underrated.
“The reason we have so many developing young players is there are leaders in the mould of Gareth Barry. It is no coincidence when we have Gareth Barry around them.”
“For me, he is one of the best English players ever. He could reach 600 Premier League appearances this season.”
On their first-leg victory, Martinez added: “We know we have a momentous, huge second leg and we will have 8,000 Evertonians with us at Etihad Stadium. We wanted to win the first leg and we have done that.
“I am very, very proud of our performance. We conceded a goal to a really good counter attack but showed a winning mentality to come right back. We showed great character.”