Bryan Byrne grew up playing soccer in his native Ireland, but played college soccer at UC Santa Barbara, helping them to an NCAA division one title. He then moved on to the MLS to play for the New England Revolution, although he was waved after one season. After that he joined the Fusion of the USL Premier Development League where he played for two seasons. He now plays for Los Angeles Celtic and Doxa Italia.
Byrne is the owner and creator of SoccerCleats101, he took the time to answer a few of our questions below.
Best advice to a young player who wants to play college soccer and pro soccer?
Work hard every day! The one thing any coach likes to see is a player who is not afraid to give 110% on the field.
What key skill do most young players lack? Is it shielding the ball, good first touch, or something else?
Good control – no matter what position you play on the field, you need to be able to keep the ball close to your feet and away from your opposition.
What age do you think players should focus on just playing soccer, and not play other sports if they want to reach the highest level?
In Ireland, players only play one or two sports through their career. But the one thing I have learned since coming to the US is that playing multiple sports can play an integral part of a players development, and is a primary reason behind America’s rise in the sport. When a player knows that soccer is the sport for them, they should decide to exclusively focus on playing.
How many hours a day do you think kids need to spend time with the ball if they want to be a pro?
I spent 3 hours everyday after school out playing – the more you can have a ball at your feet the better you will be!
For me, one short cut for players to get better is to play with older (better) players and find a mentor? What do you think of this idea? Do you have any short cuts to getting better?
Yes that is something I completely agree with. Growing up I played with my older cousin and he was so much better than I was. Everyday was a challenge for me to be as good as he was. Play games like soccer tennis and try beat your toe-tap record to develop different parts of your game.
Who is your favorite player playing today and why?
Right now, it would have to be Charlie Adam who plays with Blackpool FC. He optimizes everything you want in a player – he works hard, never gives up, scores goals and is committed to his team even though several big clubs have tried to sign him in recent times. When it comes to attractive soccer, I don’t think there is anyone better than Lionel Messi and the kid is sure to be one of the best players of all time!
Who is the best player you played against in your career?
The best player I have played with/against is Shalrie Joseph at New England Revolution. He never gives a bad pass and it is impossible to get the ball off him!
What soccer team do you follow and support and don’t miss their games even if they are on at 4am?
Haha, that would be Manchester United! I am up every Saturday/Sunday morning to catch the early games!
Best book about soccer you’ve read and best movie you’ve seen about the game?
Best book I have read was Brian Clough’s autobiography. It gives a true depiction about what the game was like in the 60’s through 90’s. And the movie that goes with the book, "The Damned United" was a great movie.
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