A PROFESSIONAL goalkeeper is now pulling pints, instead of catching balls.

Geoff Barnett, aged 63, has teamed up with his wife, Patty, aged 59, and son, Colin, aged 25, to run the George & Dragon in Holmes Chapel.

Rudheath-born Geoff, who was between the posts for Everton and Arsenal during his 17-year footballing career, has served behind the Middlewich Road bar for a month.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Geoff, who used to live in Forest Street, Weaverham, and attended Verdin Grammar School.

He was spotted by soccer scouts, while playing for Cheshire Boys.

“When you play for a good school team and you’ve got some ability, you get watched more than the others,” recalled Geoff.

“Some things just happen.

“I’ve got a lot of good memories.”

Geoff played for Arsenal in the 1972 FA Cup Final at Wembley, standing in for the legendary Bob Wilson, when he was injured.

His career went international, when he signed for Minnesota Kicks in the USA.

After hanging up his gloves, he went on to run a restaurant and bar in the States with his American wife, Patty, whom he married 27 years ago.

They later took over a pub in Marple, Cheshire, and have now come home to stay.

Tough training schedules on the pitch, he said, have stood him in good stead for tackling the demanding role of running a busy pub.

“In this business, it’s seven days a week with 15-hour days,” said Geoff.

“There are so many things to do – cleaning the pumps, checking the cellar, ordering the beers and all the paperwork.

“I enjoy the routine and meeting people from all different walks of life.”

Despite his wealth of experience in the industry, Geoff and his son, Colin, attended a five-day Robinson’s licensee training course.

His new goal is to build up the pub’s successful restaurant.

Geoff added: “We’ve got a beautiful dining room, but we want people to realise they can eat anywhere in the pub.

“We serve fresh English food and everything is cooked on the premises.

“We use a butcher across the road and a baker who has been in the town for 100 years.

“The first thing my wife and son did was get the Christmas menus printed.

“Having been brought up in Cheshire, it feels like everything’s come full circle.

“It was time to come home and, as we’ve often been over to visit family and friends, we’ve been able to adjust very quickly to our new lives.”