“I love him more than anything else.”
Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira is now in charge of Crystal Palace, but the Premier League manager put in the hard yards before he was given the job.
Before he managed Nice and New York FC, he was a part of Manchester City’s Academy and the Manchester club’s Elite Development Squad.
And when he was helping to nurture the youth at City, a young Dubliner by the name of Jack Byrne was one Vieira’s most highly rated talents.
Speaking in Dublin back in 2015, Vieira said that Byrne had a similar wild streak in him that Roy Keane once had, and that he proved him wrong through hard work.
Patrick Vieira on Jack Byrne
He said: “The only way to compare Jack and Roy is that they are both nuts!”
“That can help – especially when you’re Irish. You must have it, as we’re in a world of competition, and the desire and personality will make a difference.
“Sometimes people get it wrong between having a personality and being stupid. But Jack Byrne has personality.
“I don’t know any top-quality player who doesn’t have that. It’s part of Jack’s character and I’ve never had any issues with him. I love him more than anything else.
“He got to the level where I didn’t expect to be honest. He showed me that I was wrong and that’s why I’m really pleased with him as he worked really hard.”
But perhaps most notably, Vieira said one thing that could sum up why Byrne hasn’t had the career many feel he should have at international level.
He said: “If you want to play direct, Jack will be useless but if you want to keep the ball on the floor, and you need someone really creative, Jack will be the player who can do that.”
No further comment needed.
Byrne is currently playing his football out in Cyprus, where he suffered a nasty back injury in February which kept him out for the end of the season, as well as Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers.