Republic of Ireland international in spotlightJohn Byrne spent a year with the Black Cats in the early 1990’s and will mostly be remembered for his record of scoring in FA Cup round except for the final in the Black Cats’ run to Wembley in the 1991-92 season.
Byrne grew up in Manchester and was picked up by fellow Mancunian and York City boss Wilf McGuiness.
The tousle-haired striker spent seven years at Bootham Crescent netting 64 goals in 199 appearances.
In his final campaign with York, Byrne bagged 27 league goals as the Minstermen won the Division Four championship.
QPR bought Byrne for £100,000 in 1984 and it was whilst at Loftus Road that Byrne was first capped by Republic of Ireland – the country of his father’s birth.
After nearly four years with the R’s, Byrne joined French club Le Havre and, after two years in France, he joined Brighton and Hove Albion.
Byrne spent a year on the south coast before Denis Smith brought him to Sunderland in October of 1991.
Smith was replaced as manager by Malcolm Crosby early in Byrne’s stay at Roker Park as the Black Cats narrowly starved off relegation from Division Two.
They did, however, make the FA Cup final and Byrne’s goal-scoring form in the cup saw him score in every round barring the final.
In his first season at Roker Park, Byrne totalled 14 goals in 35 games – a good return considering he didn’t make his debut until the end of October.
The Wythenshawe-born forward played only eight games at the start of the 1992-93 season – scoring on his final appearance at Roker Park in a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers before joining Millwall for £275,000.
His best subsequent spell was with Oxford United after injuries curtailed his third spell with Brighton.
His league career totalled 503 appearances with 134 goals.