Leicester City’s Irish scout Billy Byrne has opened up about what life is like for young Irish players who have made the move to English football.
Byrne is an experienced scout who has brought some great talent to Leicester City, including current Under-18s forward Shane Flynn, who has represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level.
“I’d always try and get a kid over at 16,” Byrne told the Irish Examiner. “It’s the start of what can be a great road for him, but if he doesn’t work hard, he’ll be back in two years’ time. I still think if they go away with the right attitude, are motivated enough, they’ll come through.
“It is hard. They haven’t got their parents. My lad Shane went. He’s still over there. He got a good Junior Cert before he went. He’s studying over there now. You don’t have to sit around the house all day.”
Byrne insists that there is plenty of natural talent across the junior leagues in Ireland and even suggested that Irish players have an advantage when they move to England due to their experiences of competitive football from an earlier age.
“There is still good talent here. And I don’t believe in all of this training hours stuff. You either have it or you don’t.”
He continued: “We have kids here who are used to competing at a good level. Who are used to competing to win. The academy kids in England don’t compete to win, they only compete to play. So when our kids go over, they have that advantage.
“Why would we want to copy the England academy format. When did they last win the World Cup? I fear for the schoolboy clubs. The Dublin Schoolboys League was once the strongest league in Europe but it’s being dismantled bit by bit.”