Jack Byrne has seen a lot in his football career so far, but even he must have been left with his head spinning following his first few days at APOEL.
Byrne joined the Cypriot side on a free transfer from Shamrock Rovers at the end of 2020. And after just two days with APOEL – and the day after he made his debut – the club’s manager Mick McCarthy was sacked.
McCarthy gave the midfielder his debut for the Republic of Ireland and was part of the reason why he joined APOEL. From the outside, it looked like the manager departing was a major disappointment for Byrne as he attempted to adapt to a new country, a new league and a new team.
Yet, although it was a setback, the Dubliner says that McCarthy’s dismissal is just an unfortunate part of professional football, and he has experienced something similar before earlier in his career when he joined Wigan Athletic.
Jack Byrne on Mick McCarthy leaving APOEL.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder also said that while McCarthy played a role in signing him for APOEL, the club’s interest in him predated his former manager.
“It was (a shock), but that’s football,” Byrne told reporters on Monday at a virtual event to promote the SPAR FAI School Zone programme.
“I was in talks with the club for a while before I came out here. I’d been speaking to the club and the president here and got really good vibes off them.
“Obviously Mick was a big factor in me coming here because he’s the man that gave me my international debut, but I knew coming out here that in football…
Jack Byrne: These things happen in football.
“You know it’s happened to me so many times before. When I was at Wigan before I was even fit to play a game, the manager Warren Joyce got the sack. I’d signed a three and a half year contract there so these things happen in football.
“You’re probably never going to have the same manager for longer than two or three years most of the time. That’s just the nature of the game.
“It wasn’t a big issue when Mick was sacked because I knew the nature of the conversations I’d had with the club before I came out the length of the contact I’d signed – two and a half years – showed the club wanted me here.”
Jack Byrne praises Stephen Kenny.
Byrne also praised Stephen Kenny, McCarthy’s successor as Ireland manager.
The midfielder, 24, is currently out injured following back surgery. Byrne, however, revealed that Kenny has contacted him to wish him a speedy recovery.
The Ireland coach also supported the Dubliner’s move to Cyprus.
“Stephen, not just as a manager but as a person on a human level, has always been really good with any of his players,” Byrne said.
“I just had a conversation with Stephen about what I was thinking of doing. He was supportive of that. He never tried to butt in, he just said, ‘Best of luck, we’ll be watching the games.’
“He offered me some advice. He was brilliant. He’s always brilliant with me. He gave me my competitive debut. I know he’s the same with all the lads.
“He was on the phone to me straight away when he heard I was getting the operation. It shows the kind of person he is.”
SPAR FAI School Zone was launched today by current Republic of Ireland footballer, Jack Byrne.
SPAR FAI School Zone is a new digital learning initiative that has been designed by the FAI and sponsored by SPAR for teachers and parents of primary school children in 4th, 5th and 6th class offering interactive and engaging lesson plans designed with both the classroom and home schooling in mind.