Ross Barkley says his now infamous celebration against Bournemouth earlier this month symbolises how much he is enjoying life at Goodison Park.
Barkley celebrated before putting the ball into an empty net against the Cherries, capping a thumping 6-3 win for Ronald Koeman’s side.
Some suggested Barkley was being arrogant or disrespectful by celebrating prematurely, something denied by the midfielder in an interview with the club’s official website:
“That just showed how much I’m enjoying it at the minute, and that’s the same with all of the lads as well.
“The goal was in the last minute - and it’s something you do as a kid. I was through and knew I wasn’t missing, so I celebrated before I scored. It was just on the spur of the moment, I thought about doing it straight away.”
The goal - and celebration - also highlights Barkley’s resurgence after arguably the most difficult season of his career to date.
The 23-year-old has been dropped twice by Koeman during the campaign, with the Dutchman unhappy with Barkley’s performances.
That led to speculation regarding his future at Goodison Park and whether he was ever going to fulfil his early potential.
Those fears seem to have been allayed, with Barkley rekindling his best form and helping the side on an eight-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Koeman certainly went with the stick rather than carrot approach with Barkley (the opposite of his predecessor Roberto Martinez) and the England international feels he has benefited from such an approach.
“It’s what every footballer wants to do - enjoy it [playing]. Sometimes you go through the hard spells but it’s worth it in the end because you get the good days ahead.”
Barkley was speaking in Dubai where the squad have been on a warm-weather training camp.
The players are due to return to England on Saturday to begin preparations for next week’s game against Sunderland.
Barkley believes the short trip away has been hugely beneficial and leaves the squad refreshed ahead of the final three months of the season.
“It’s been a great trip up to now. We’ve been working really hard, a lot of intense work but there’s a lot of enjoyment in the training sessions. We were expecting a lot of sun, which we haven’t had, but it’s still been very warm and that takes it out of you a little bit, especially with the intense work we’ve been doing.
“That’s what it’s for - it’s to boost our fitness so we can kick on for the rest of the season and the last 13 games. We’ve been putting in a lot of effort and we are looking forward to the games coming up.”