Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs was one of the first player to pay tribute to Gareth Barry after the West Brom midfielder claimed the outright record for Premier League appearances.
Barry made his 663rd league appearance in the 2-0 lost at Arsenal on Monday night, live on Sky Sports, smashing the previous record set by Welshman Giggs.
“Hi Gareth, massive congratulations on beating my Premier League appearance record,” said Giggs. “It’s a huge feat.
“I know that you’re a professional lad and to play that many games at the top level is a massive achievement. So well done mate, and hopefully there’s many more games to come.”
It was a typically unfussy performance in north London from the 36-year-old, who had wanted little fanfare surrounding his achievement, although in a nice touch Baggies boss Tony Pulis named him captain for the night.
Barry in all likelihood downplayed the achievement in a 21-season career which has seen him play for Aston Villa, Manchester City and Everton ahead of his summer move to The Hawthorns.
“It was something different this week, having a lot of media attention,” he said. “It will be nice to put this milestone to bed.
“I’ve not really given it too much thought about who is behind me. There is so much concentration on what you are doing.”
Pulis, in between who was boiling about alleged injustices from the officials at the Emirates, found time to pay tribute to the veteran.
“Gareth has been a wonderful professional and still is,” he said. “We hope he keeps performing like that until the end of the season.”
The ex-England international did, though, receive a personal message of congratulations from the England manager, Gareth Southgate, who played alongside him during his days at Aston Villa.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate you on an incredible achievement,” said Southgate.
“I think back to watching you for the first time as a young kid at Bodymoor Heath and realising straight away that I was in trouble for my place.
“Thankfully we played three at the back and you were able to play alongside me.
“I thoroughly enjoyed helping you in that early part of your career, being around when you first joined up with England, and you’ve gone on to incredible achievements, way beyond what I ever did as a player.
“You’re now in the history books and deservedly so. You’ve been undervalued by many for the way that you’ve played.
“Congratulations, enjoy it, and I dare say there’s a few more games in the bag yet.”
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) September 25, 2017
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who tried to sign Barry twice, was also also fulsome in his praise.
Writing in his programme notes, Wenger said: “It’s an incredible achievement but he is a marvellous player.
“I think he’s been underrated because he is always focused, determined, strong in the challenge, has good vision, a top-quality left foot and is also a very good defender.
Arsène Wenger missed out on signing Gareth Barry in 2009, but Arsène wasn't about to let Barry leave the Emirates without a Gunners shirt. pic.twitter.com/fsxq9NufKW
— 🏆 FA Cup Winners 🏆 (@tomgunner14) September 26, 2017
“He’s a very intelligent player on the pitch and breaking Ryan Giggs’ record is a remarkable achievement because it shows this guy has dedicated his life to the game.
“It’s a shame he didn’t get more England caps but he was playing at a time when it was hard to get in the team ahead of players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.”