Footballer John Barnes defends Liam Neeson after controversial race attack comments

"This is what society has shown him."

Football icon John Barnes has said that Liam Neeson “deserves a medal” after he described how he once had violent thoughts about killing a black person.

The Oscar-nominated actor attracted widespread attention yesterday, after recalling how he walked the streets with a weapon after a close friend was attacked by a black man.

Neeson described how he hoped that someone “would have a go” at him so he could attack them, but added that he felt ashamed by his behaviour.

But Barnes has now heralded Neeson for recalling the truth, and claimed that “we are all unconscious racists.”

Defending the star, Barnes said that “this is what society has shown him, that black people do, Muslims do – this is what society has wrongly shown him, this is what the media have wrongly portrayed to him”.

He added: “He went on to say he was ashamed and horrified by the way he felt.

Liam Neeson

“He’s not ashamed and horrified at wanting to commit the act of revenge, he’s ashamed and horrified because that is what he thought about all black people.”

Barnes also said that Neeson was being “pilloried” and subjected to a “witch-hunt.”

“I always say, we are all unconscious racists,” he said.

“And he said, unconsciously for a week and a half, that’s how he felt. We have people who have been doing it and keeping it quiet for 20 years, but as long as you don’t admit it then we think everything is okay.”

During the original interview, Neeson had claimed that growing up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland had shown him the dangers of attempting to seek justice.

“I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that,” he added.

“All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. But that primal need, I understand.”