Liverpool legends John Barnes and Ian Rush talk football technology

To celebrate the return of the 2012 European Championship qualifiers, of which the company sponsors Sky Sport's coverage, Hyundai is releasing a free iPhone (iPod touch) app featuring its Boot Shoot campaign, launched last year. In it, players have the chance to emulate John Barnes and peers in striking a football into the boot of a Hyundai i20.

The game will be available on iTunes' App Store from Saturday 26 March, the same date England is to face Wales in the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, and Pocket-lint was invited to meet a legend from each of the two national teams, while they re-enacted a real-life Boot Shoot at the app's London launch.

It also happens that they are true Liverpool legends too, something that's made this specific member of the Pocket-lint team very excited.

So, as well as hoiking balls into a hatchback, both Ian Rush and John Barnes took the time to talk tech, footy and otherwise, with the Lint:

Pocket-lint: What’s your favourite gadget?

John Barnes: "I like LED TVs. I’m not a real gadget person – I don’t know how to operate them, my kids do. I like to buy gadgets, but in terms of knowing how to operate them, I don’t really know what to do with them.

"But the 3D LED TV – is that a gadget? That’s my favourite. With the glasses."

Ian Rush: "The iPod really, but it gets updated all the time. I do a lot of travelling, so I’ve got an iPod in the car, so I like to do that. But every time you get into it, it seems to get updated."

What has been the biggest technological advancement in football since your days of playing?

John: "Credit cards. So they can spend the money they earn. £200 grand a week?

"Seriously though, I think that if you look at the players now, they all have these little iPod things with big headphones on. All the players seem to use them. It seems strange because as time goes on, things are supposed to be getting smaller, and I don’t know the benefits, but footballers seem to like these huge headphones that they wear. I don’t know, is that better than the small ones?

"I like the small ones."

Ian: "It’s like everything has changed. I think that the amount of cameras that they have now, they can see everything.  You can’t do anything now. In the old days, you could get away with certain things. But there’s so many cameras about now, especially with Sky and everything."

John: "But I don’t think they utilise technology enough. I think goal line technology should come in. They should use the technology that’s already available to make the decision making process better.

"FIFA are dead set against that for some reason."

Ian: "Look at tennis and rugby, it’s got to come into football."

John: "FIFA are against it, but they should use it. There are the technological devices out there to help football, and they should definitely utilise them more."

Politics?

John: "Definitely. Although even FIFA have now decided to experiment with goal line technology. Which is a start."

Ian: "Football is different to what it was even 10 years ago, and you need to move on. But some things need to stay. You’ve got to keep the game flowing. We don’t want it to become like American Football, with quarters and things like that.

"I think that there’s a time [to use technology], like when there’s a penalty, or if the ball goes out of play, the referee’s got an earpiece in now."

John: "I think with throw-ins and stuff like that, it’s important. Has the ball gone over the line? Is it a throw-in, or is it a free kick? But you don’t want to use too much technology in football, because you don’t want to interrupt the flow.

"Other sports that are stop/start can use it more, but I think goal line technology, and if a tackle’s inside or outside the box, you can use the cameras for that.

"Apart from that, I don’t think you can use it for anything else."

Ian: "I think, maybe you should allow a captain to challenge two decisions [during a match].  You’ve got two decisions, the captain decides if he thought the ball was over the line or whatever. You’d have a chance then."

How about the actual kit, especially since your playing days?

Ian: "It’s improving all the time. You look at the boots. You look at the balls. They’re lighter – everything’s lighter. The game’s more difficult for goalkeepers now than ever before."

John: "Look at the World Cup ball, for example. It became a farce where they couldn’t kick the ball properly. So while we think we can improve it, it’s a natural game, allow it to be a natural game. The more we think we can control it, the more we think we can improve it, the worse it becomes.

"I think it’s fine the way it is. The boots are light enough, the balls are light enough, so why now do we have to improve it? It’s a great game. It’s the most popular sport in the world. It doesn’t need improving.

"They messed around with the balls in the World Cup, no one can hit the target. They messed around with the boots, people keep getting injured because the boots are now too light."

Ian: "They’re like slippers, the boots now. There’s no protection at all. It’s all metatarsals now."

John: "The boots are too soft. Leave them alone. No need for improvement."

Who in the Liverpool dressing room, in your days, was the biggest gadget geek?

John: "I remember later on, Stan Collymore and Phil Babb were the first to be on this thing they kept going on about: The Internet. I’d never heard of that before then. I still don’t know what to do with it now. But they were the first to be into computers.

"In our day, earlier than that, there really weren’t any gadgets around. I had an 8-track in the car, that was about it. I had a ghetto blaster [big laughs]. Thinking about it, I was probably the gadget person then, but there were no gadgets around."

Ian: "Yeah, it was the ghetto blaster really. I remember when I used to play for Wales, Neville Southall used to bring one all the time, and play it full blast."

John: "I suppose, when they first came out, we all had a Motorola [mobile phone]."

Do you think mobile phones and personal devices have hampered training?

Ian: "I think what they have done is create more individuals, rather than a team. People have got their own individual things on, so they’re thinking for themselves.

"Team bonding is vital. We had good team bonding, a good team spirit, but now they’re all individual, they all concentrate on their own."

John: "Or they’ve got their PCs, they’ve got their iPods, they’ve got iPhones or portable DVD players. We used to have to watch the same film. We used to turn around [on the team bus] and say, ‘who put this crap film on?’ But we all had to watch it.

"Now they’ve got their own little individual DVDs that they watch and stuff. So, from that point of view, yeah, the team spirit in terms of interacting on a four hour coach journey is gone."

Finally, who’s going to win the match on Saturday?

John: "England."

Ian: "Wales.

"[Laughs] I’ll take a draw.

"As long as we stop England from qualifying…"

John: "Which means that if they just concede three goals, that’s not bad."



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