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17th Mar 2020

“Real recognise real!” – Ireland footballer Jack Byrne on how he ended up meeting royalty

James Fenton

It may seem like longer but it was only a fortnight ago that Prince William and Kate Middleton landed in Ireland for a brief visit.

Taking in stops in Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Galway, it was a busy few days for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. One of their engagements saw them meet with some of Ireland’s most gifted members in the world of the arts, entertainment and sport, one of whom was Shamrock Rovers and Republic of Ireland midfielder Jack Byrne.

Speaking as part of an in-depth interview with Richie Sadlier for the Second Captains’ Player’s Chair, which was released this morning, Jack was asked how it all came about and he explained: “I was walking around the Omni Shopping Centre, my brother was getting a new phone. I got a phone call off Mark Lynch who does all the media stuff for Shamrock Rovers. He said listen, you’re gonna think this is a wind-up. We’ve got a phone call off the British Embassy looking for you to go and meet them.”

The 23-year-old added that “he sent me the email and I showed my brother and he said it doesn’t look like a wind-up. I rang him back and said it’s a big honour, I’d love to.”

When asked why he thought he was chosen, Jack laughs as he responds: “I think real just recognise real! No, I dunno, it’s probably something they can tell their grandkids about!”

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for the former Manchester City player, having returned to the League Of Ireland where he has since won the FAI Cup and picked up the PFAI Player’s Player of the Year award as well as making his senior international debut in 2019.

At the beginning of the hour-long interview, he explains how his night with royalty went, saying: “We had four sportspeople and a fella from the British Embassy on our table. He was talking us through ‘this is what you can do, this is what you can’t do.’ No phones was the main thing because they only had two or three minutes with each person. They didn’t want you taking selfies, they had professional photographers there.”

The royals had clearly done their research as well, with Jack explaining: “I’m sure they were briefed before they went in because they knew a fair bit about us. I was nervous because they are royalty at the end of the day. It was one of those moments, I saw my mother’s reaction when I went home and showed her the picture of me and Kate and it kind of hit home. It was a little bit overwhelming then.”

The Player’s Chair on Second Captains World Service is always a great way pass the time, particularly on a St. Patrick’s Day when it’s difficult to leave the house. You can here everything Jack has to say about the royals and more via this link.