Jack Byrne’s former teammate has said that the Shamrock Rovers midfielder is good enough to play in the Premier League.
That teammate just happens to Wes Brown, who played 362 times for Manchester United, won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and two European Cups. Brown was part of the team that won the treble in 1999, he set up Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal in the 2008 Champions League final and has played with some of the club’s greatest-ever players.
Brown, who also earned 23 England caps, played alongside Byrne for Blackburn Rovers in 2016. He believes his former teammate, who made his Ireland debut on Tuesday night, has the ability to play in the English top-flight.
“He can definitely play in the Premier League, I’m telling you,” Brown told reporters on Monday at a media event in Dublin. The former United defender, who retired from professional football last year after a spell in the Indian Super League, compared Byrne to Paul Scholes, saying that the Rovers midfielder is “gifted.”
“On the ball, he’s very tight, nice and tidy, like Scholesy, but he attacks and runs at players more,” Brown said.
“Sometimes he didn’t make the right decisions but he was young, he was growing up and you’ve got to learn. He’s gifted. He’s one of those players you get sometimes, players who are born and don’t have to practice. The ball sticks to them and they can turn and get out of trouble. That’s what Jack is like and he’s evolving into the player we all know he can be.”
Brown also spoke about why it did not work out for Byrne during the loan spell at Blackburn, when he made just five appearances. The former Sunderland defender said the player’s ability was there for all to see, but the team were struggling and the manager Owen Coyle did not want to take any risks.
“I trained with him every day and he’s that sort of player, he’s aware of everything. If anything at Blackburn, some of the things he was doing, the other players weren’t on the same level.
“He’s very confident, 100 per cent he was like that and sometimes that was his downfall. But it was never in a nasty way, I think he knows the ability he’s got.
“But sometimes, and we were struggling at the time, the manager won’t put the little guy, the magician guy in. He’ll put in players who will work and tackle. Jack is not that player, he is a different sort of player who was probably suited to another team.”
Byrne said likewise when he was speaking to Pundit Arena earlier this year.
“Playing in the Championship, at the start of the season everyone wants to play football. But then you lose a couple of games, and you’re in the bottom three, players and managers change and you might go a little bit more direct. They try and get wins. I understand that because it’s such a big league, there is so much money involved. And there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. But sometimes that’s just what happens.”
Brown also said he is “buzzing” to see Byrne do so well for Rovers and Ireland and that he “didn’t really get the chance” to show his true talent in the Championship.
The 23-year-old showcased his talent on Tuesday night at the Aviva Stadium though, coming off the bench to play a key part in two goals for Mick McCarthy’s team.
Wes Brown, Emile Heskey, Jack Byrne and Shane Supple were at the Sport Ireland Campus today to help launch a new season of action on the eir sport pack. eir Sport viewers can watch every game in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League plus UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers on Virgin Media Sport, which is now part of the eir sport pack, as well as live FA Cup games, SSE Airtricity League games & the Republic of Ireland’s U21 Home Qualifiers.