Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines have paid tribute to evergreen former Everton star Gareth Barry after he made Premier League history on Monday evening.
The veteran West Bromwich Albion star's appearance in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal was his 633rd appearance in the Premier League, and resulted in Barry finally overthrowing Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs as the footballer with the most appearances in the competition.
Speaking to the Toffees' website about Barry's longevity, club captain Jagielka put his staying power down to the model professionalism that the 36-year-old has and believes there are plenty more games to come for him before he hangs up his boots.
Jagielka said: “It’s not like he has played for any old team – he has played at the top level and won trophies.
"Most of those appearances will be starts as well, and a lot of those will be 90 minutes – so there is a lot of mileage on the clock. That’s testament to Gareth and the way he keeps himself fit and does the right things.
“He is a great footballer but also a really good guy as well. I know he has picked up a fair few bookings in all those appearances but he is a really down-to-earth guy! I’m delighted for him to break as many records as he can.
“Gareth was a cool, calm and collected presence. He didn’t speak too much but when he did you listened. He showed people how to do things right on and off the pitch. He is so professional and is definitely a great role model.
“I knew as captain that I could rely on him all the time. It’s fantastic to see him break the record, and to do so in the best league in the world.”
Barry clocked up 154 appearances in all competitions for Everton before he departed for West Brom in the summer, and Baines added that the midfielder would always be one of the finest footballers he has ever had the pleasure of playing alongside throughout his own lengthy Blues career.
The left-back stated: “I think everyone will appreciate the record. He was such a good player for us, someone who the football community will respect massively, not just because he was a good player, but how he’s been able to apply himself and play that many games, under so many different managers who have come.
“Whatever club he’s been at, whether they’ve signed him or not, managers have looked at him and known he’s got to be in the team.
"You don’t make that number of appearances for nothing - you’ve got to be a special player and Gaz, for me, is one of my favourite players. He’s one of the best players that I’ve ever played with.”