The story behind Ross Barkley having all of his tattoos removed says a lot about him

Ross Barkley is on cloud nine at the moment following ‘the best 10 days of his career’.

Last week the 24-year-old made his long-awaited return to the England national team, playing against Croatia and Spain in the UEFA Nations League.

He was particularly influential in the 3-2 win over Spain and showed exactly why Gareth Southgate brought him back.

Then, on Saturday, Barkley scored a 96th-minute equaliser against Manchester United to salvage a draw and extend Chelsea’s unbeaten record in the Premier League to nine games.

It’s worth mentioning that the midfielder also recorded a goal and assist in the 3-0 win over Southampton prior to the international break.

“I’d probably say so,” said Barkley when asked if the past 10 days have been the best of his career. “I got a couple of goals and couple of assists and played well for England.

“Getting in the England side and getting in two good positive performances there and today with my first goal at Stamford Bridge was fantastic for me.

“I believe that I am a better player now. I’ve matured, I understand the game much more, which can be natural as you grow up. It just shows to myself that hard work does pay off in the end.

“I’m 24 now and I understand the game. I am at a big club now with a lot of expectation and fantastic players around me, and my performances are showing it.”

Something football fans noticed during the United draw was that Barkley’s sleeve tattoo has all-but disappeared.

Here’s what his left arm used to look like:

And here’s what it looks like now:

Only remnants remain of Barkley’s sleeve and now he’s revealed the story of getting his first tattoo aged 14 and having everything removed 10 years later after realising his mistake.

“I got them (the tattoos that make the sleeve) at a young age and sometimes when you are young you do stupid things and not think about it,” he added.

“But I went into it too quick and over the years I felt I wanted to get them removed, so I went through the process in the last couple of years.

“[I] started getting them removed a couple of years ago. I would never rule out getting another, maybe when I have kids I might have something done to go with that.”

Fair play. Barkley has really matured as a player recently and he also seems to be cleaning up his act away from the football pitch – literally.