At the age of 25, Richard Barroilhet has already played in six different countries and his career so far has reflected the mix of nationalities and cultures which shaped his childhood. Born in London to a Chilean dad and an English mother, the forward grew up in France before returning to finish his youth career with Fulham. Since then, he has travelled the globe following his football dream.
“I do find it easy to settle in,” he says. “I’m open-minded and enjoy discovering new cultures and footballing philosophies. Obviously speaking French, English and Spanish does help to adapt quicker as well.”
Last year, Barroilhet headed to the birthplace of his father to kickstart his football career after a spell in the lower leagues in France. Chile is the sixth country the forward has played in and his career in South America has got off to a fine start, despite the fact that on his arrival in Chile he had no trials lined up.
“After getting back to full-time football I decided I wanted to give it a good go in South America,” he says. “Having a Chilean passport helped as I don’t fill the foreign player quotas. So I went knocking on the door of a few clubs here and ended up signing for one of the top five clubs of the country.”
Barroilhet’s persistence clearly paid off as he secured a deal at top flight side O’Higgins, a team who had won a league title as recently as the 2013/14 season. After one appearance for his new club, the forward was loaned out to second tier club Barnechea as he looked for regular game time.
His time at Barnechea was explosive and didn’t go unnoticed by his parent club. The London-born man scored six goals in 13 games in the second division as he impressed fans across the country in his new home.
“It [the first loan spell] went well for me and O’Higgins signed me on a longer and improved contract. Now I’m on loan again for a couple more months. The idea is to get playing to get stats and confidence to eventually challenge for a spot in a top club here.”
Barriolhet is currently on loan at another second division side, this time Magallanes, a club based not far from the country’s capital city, Santiago. He so far has four goals for his latest side as he continues to get regular game time and it seems like the gamble to move to Chile is paying off.
“Yes I’m enjoying my time here,” he says. “The football and understanding by the professionals is quality. People are passionate about the game and it has been a pleasure to experience the pressure of a fan base and play in front of good crowds.”
The move to Chile has also brought the added bonus of a TV career, with the forward a regular guest as a pundit on football programs in the country.
The 25-year-old is certainly enjoying life in his father’s homeland but his career up to this point has been varied to say the least. Transfers have come on regular occasions but injuries have prevented the naturally gifted forward from reaching the potential he showed at the early stages of his career.
“The injuries I’ve had have come at crucial moments in my career. At the age of 18, 19 and 20, moments where you need to show you can be part of a first team squad. Coming back from them took some time and being in a set up where people give you time hasn’t happened for me.”
After growing up in France and playing for Nice’s youth sides, Barroilhet returned to London in 2010 to sign for Fulham. After two years at the club where injuries affected his progress, his only first team game time came during a short loan spell with top flight Finnish side VPS where he made seven appearances.
Despite that, he had impressed enough at youth level for Fulham to earn a call-up to the France U19 side where he played alongside the likes of Wolfsburg winger Paul-Georges Ntep and Hoffenheim striker Ishak Belfodil.
“Playing for France and beating the likes of Spain and Russia was a fantastic experience. I didn’t ever have contact with the English FA at the time though so wouldn’t say I had interest from them.”
After returning from Finland, Barroilhet’s time at Fulham came to an end but the two years back in the country of his birth certainly helped shape him as a player.
“I would definitely be a different player if I had started playing in England. But then again, I finished off my youth period in England and the way I play has been affected by that period in an English academy.”
After Fulham, the forward returned to continental Europe to join Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk. He never made his debut for the Dutch side, although he made the bench on three occasions. Despite that, his time in Holland is still something the forward reflects on positively.
“My favourite country I’ve lived in so far is probably Holland, for the people and football. Although I was injured, it would have been great to play there for a few years as a young player.”
After Holland, came a move back to England where he made one appearance for National League side Nuneaton Borough. Then came one of the more unusual moves in his career, the forward agreed to sign for Kazakhstan Premier League side Taraz.
“Kazakhstan came after a long period out with an injury,” he says. “A Dutch contact I made from my short time in Holland knew the manager of this team called Taraz so I went on a trial with them in Antalya, Turkey. At the time I had little options after being out for so long so I decided to go for it.
“Kazakhstan wasn’t too bad. The standard of football was good against some teams but bad against others, depending on budget of clubs and football ideas coming from the manager. It was a bit boring and closed-minded where I was living but we had a few foreign players to have a good laugh with.”
He made nine appearances for Taraz before a return closer to home to sign for third tier French club Étoile Fréjus Saint-Raphaël. Moves to Dutch side Magreb ’90 and Montpellier’s B team then followed as Barroilhet picked up regular game time but a return to full-time football was what the former France youth international really wanted and what he finally achieved with his move to Chile.
“My ambition is to make a name for myself here in Chile. At O’Higgins maybe or somewhere else. I maybe could give it a go in Europe again at some point or try out the MLS.”
It is clear from Barrolihet’s future plans that he is not averse to moving on once again. As he reaches the peak years in his career, regular game time becomes even more crucial and in Chile, the forward is certainly achieving that. He may speak three languages and have been shaped by a mix of nationalities but the 25-year-old’s determination certainly has an English feel to it.