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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ex-QPR John Byrne Profiled and Interviewed

Yes. Another fine Official Site Profile and Interview!


In our latest instalment of exclusive past player interviews on www.qpr.co.uk, R's legend John Byrne comes under the spotlight.

John Byrne (1984-1988)

With his flowing blond hair and silky football skills, John Byrne was another in the long line of flamboyant Number 10's at Loftus Road.

The Manchester-born striker joined Rangers from York City for £100,000 in October 1984. He went on to make 149 appearances in a hooped shirt, scoring 36 goals.

Looking back to more than 20 years ago, Byrne has happy recollections of his spell with the R's.

"I moved south just after I played for York against QPR in the League Cup over two legs," he said.

"We lost both games but personally I think I did alright. So that gave the impetus for Rangers to sign me. It was pretty instantaneous.

"The big attraction was that I was joining a First Division Club. There weren't the same financial benefits that footballers have nowadays - in fact, I didn't sign for much more money that I was on at York to be honest!

"When I came to QPR, the thing that struck me was how good the players were in comparison to the standard I was used to. I was gobsmacked by the quality that was around me in my first couple of training sessions!

"I enjoyed playing up front with 'Banna' (Gary Bannister). He was a great centre-forward, right out of the top drawer. I don't know how our partnership worked but we just seemed to have a good understanding.

"He was more of a prolific goalscorer than I was. He also had superb quality and awareness for bringing people into the game.

"Personally, I was always conscious of the traditions at Rangers and so I was dead proud to wear the Number 10. I think I did the shirt justice most of the time."

Byrne was certainly a man for the big occasion. He won 23 caps for the Republic of Ireland in his career and always seemed to dazzle in QPR's more prestigious fixtures.

"Probably the best game was when we beat Chelsea 6-0 at Loftus Road on Easter Monday 1986," recalls Byrne.

"I'll never forget that day! It was just one of those occasions when everything went right for us. Banna was on fire - he scored a hat-trick and I got a couple too.

"I remember one of my goals where I picked up possession on the halfway line. It was funny on that plastic pitch, because bodies would fall all around you if you got into your stride. So eventually I wriggled free and slotted a shot into the bottom corner.

"There were some big name players in the Chelsea line-up, including centre-back Doug Rougvie who seemed like he wanted to kill somebody when the score was 5-0! He was certainly looking for blood!

"We had the Milk Cup Final coming up and I remember saying to Banna with about 15 minutes to go 'I ain't going anywhere near Rougvie'. And Gary replied 'Neither am I!' So we both ended up playing on the wings with no one in the middle!

"Another of my favourite memories is scoring in two home games against Manchester United. The most satisfying match was when we defeated them 1-0 in March 1986.

"I remember lobbing the ball over two defenders' heads in the box. Then I flicked it back before shooting past Chris Turner in goal at the Loft End.

"It was great for me - especially being a Manchester lad as well. United are my team and it is weird to say that I scored a goal that beat them."

Happy days for the Super Hoops! Indeed, Byrne only has one regret from his time with Rangers.

"The biggest disappointment was losing 3-0 in the Milk Cup Final against Oxford. We just so under performed at Wembley that day. It was such a bad display that I still can't get my head around it.

"It came after we had a great run to reach the Final. I scored a cracker at Watford, then we beat Forest, Chelsea and Liverpool along the way.

"So I reflect on the Final with tinges of regret. If we had played anything like our best then we would have lifted the cup."

Byrne is now 47 years-old and lives on the South Coast. He keeps himself busy in his new career and also follows events here at Loftus Road with avid interest.

"I have quite an unusual job. I am a podiatrist which involves treatment of foot disorders. Norman Whiteside was probably the first ex-footballer to go into it.

"I originally wanted to do physiotherapy but I couldn't get a place at Uni. Then I got on a course to study podiatry. I ended up with a BSC Honours degree eight years ago.

"Since then, I've been working three days a week in the NHS with patients who are maybe diabetic or have rheumatoid arthritis. I have my own private practise for a day and a half each week where I deal with a number of sports people. And I also do a day a week as a lecturer at Brighton University with students who are training to be podiatrists.

"Away from work, I still keep an eye on the fortunes of every Club I played for. So I have been delighted by the new investment at QPR. They've got a fantastic chance of gaining promotion in the next year or two and I hope Rangers have a great future."


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