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Johnny Byrne (footballer)

Personal information
Full nameJohn Joseph Byrne
Playing positionStriker

     Home | Football | Johnny Byrne (footballer)

John Joseph (Johnny) "Budgie" Byrne (13 May 1939 27 October 1999) was an English professional football player.

Johnny started his career playing for Epsom Town, and then Guildford City Youth, before moving to Football League club Crystal Palace, signing a professional contract on his 17th birthday. After a steady first two seasons, Byrne became a first team regular, and quickly became popular with the Palace faithful, setting the Fourth Division alight. In the 1960 61 season, Byrne scored 31 of Palace's 110 goals (his strike partner Roy Summersby netted 25), as Palace reached the Third Division. In the November of that first season in Division Three, Byrne was called up to the England team, despite playing outside the top two divisions at the time, one of only five post-war players to achieve this. Byrne played the whole of the 1 1 draw against Northern Ireland, part of the 1962 British Home Championship, at Wembley Stadium.

Following this, he did not stay a Third Division player for long, and the First Division beckoned, as Ron Greenwood paid a British record transfer fee of £65,000 to take "Budgie" to West Ham United in 1962. The fee being made up of £58,000 plus ex-Palace striker Ron Brett who was valued at £7,000. He left Palace having scored 96 goals, then a post-war record.

At the Hammers, Byrne's career flourished. He got his first (and second) England goal in the 1 8 win over Switzerland, and he then pipped the likes of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters (all would go on to win the 1966 FIFA World Cup) to the "Hammer of the Year" award for the 1963 64 season, as West Ham won the FA Cup. In May 1964, possibly Byrne's greatest achievement came, as he scored a hattrick in England's 4 3 win over a Portugal team that contained the likes of Eusébio.

However he missed out on a place in the eventually victorious England squad, at the 1966 FIFA World Cup. He scored for West Ham in the first leg of their 5 3 aggregate loss to West Bromwich Albion in the 1966 League Cup Final. Byrne left West Ham in 1967, returning to Crystal Palace.

Just under a year later, having scored just five goals (though that did bring his Palace total to one over 100, putting him 4th on Palace's all-time scorers list; he is now 7th), he moved across London again, this time to Fulham.

After another unnoteworthy year, Byrne moved to South Africa, to play for the now defunct Durban City, alongside some of his former Fulham teammates, such as Johnny Haynes. right

Byrne went on to become manager of Durban City, but spent most of his coaching career at Cape Town club Hellenic. He even played for them during an injury crisis in 1980, coming on as a late substitute in a league match against Johannesburg club Dynamos just short of his 51st birthday. He also coached at Cape Town Spurs and for Michau Warriors in Port Elizabeth. Spurs was his last job in 1998.

He died suddenly following a heart attack in Cape Town in October 1999, aged 60.

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