FitbawFiles interviews: Shaun Byrne.

Been looking forward to this one for a while now. When I started this blog I had hoped that as it progressed that maybe one day I would be able to interview players and personalities from the world of Scottish football so to have my first interview on the website within the first month of running it is really exciting. What a great first interview i’ve got as well, a talented Scottish midfielder having a superb season with newly promoted Livingston. This interview will be based around questions I had myself and also questions sent in by followers of the @TheFitbawFiles instagram account, so here we go!

Shaun’s footballing career started off at Celtic as a youth where he spent 4 years from 2004 to 2008. Q. You spent time at Celtic as a teenager, who were the best players that you played with at that time and have any of them gone on to feature for the Celtic first team? A. The main 2 would be Callum McGregor who’s obviously playing for the Celtic first team now and the other would be Dylan McGeouch. Both very good players.

Here we have some quickfire questions sent in to the instagram page.

Q. Who is the best player you have come up against in you career so far? A. The best player would probably be Tom Rogic. 

Q. Who is the best player you’ve played with in your career so far? A. I can’t pick one I’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of talented players at Livingston and Dunfermline.

Q. What was the highlight of your time at Dunfermline? A. The highlight would probably be my debut against raith Rovers and obviously winning the league.

Q. Who was your footballing idol growing up? A. It would be Steven Gerrard.

Shaun joined Dunfermline in 2008, still a young lad after his 4 years with Celtic as a kid. He progressed through the youth teams at the Pars and was the captain of the under 20’s side that reached the youth cup final in 2013 only to be defeated by Celtic despite a valiant effort. Shaun made 115 appearances over the course of a 4 year stint in the senior team at East End Park and played through some of the toughest periods in the clubs history as the Pars went in to adminstration and had to fight to keep the club afloat. In his final season he was part of the League One title winning squad before leaving to join Livingston. Q. You left Dunfermline in the summer of 2016 with many Pars fans annoyed at the decision to let you go, obviously in hindsight this has been a great move for you but what was your feeling at the time leaving the Pars and how did it all come about? A. I don’t know about that to be honest. Some fans were maybe disappointed and some were probably quite happy. It was sad at the time as I had spent a lot of years at the club. The last few months of the season I wasn’t playing enough games and I was at the age where I felt I needed a fresh challenge to kick on. Alan Johnston was unsure if he wanted to keep me so I took the decision out of his hands and looked elsewhere. Thankfully Livingston wanted to sign me.

Having joined Livingston Shaun had another crack at League one and made it back to back titles as he helped Livi to promotion in his first season. The second was far more impressive as he helped Livingston to back to back promotions as they returned to the Premiership for the first time since 2006 after beating Partick Thistle in the playoffs under David Hopkin. Shaun signed up for another season at Livingston, this time in the top flight and under player/manager Kenny Miller. Livi have had a great season and have been flying since Kenny Miller was replaced by Gary Holt early on in the season, a great debut campaign so far for Shaun in the top flight.

Q. What were your goals for this seaso? Both on a personal level and for the team. A. My goal was just to play as many games as I can and prove to myself that I can play at the highest level in Scotland. The aim for the team was to stay in the league.

Q. You personally have performed very well over the past few years, what do you put that improvement down to? A. It’s went well since I’ve left dunfermline. Probably just playing week in week out and having a management team that really trust you and give you a lot of confidence. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am and couldn’t have done it without the players and staff at Livingston.

Q. How did you find your brief period working under Kenny Miller and why do you think that his tenure as Player manager didn’t work out? A. It was great I really enjoyed it. I think he will go on to be a good manager once he finishes playing. I don’t know it was just a decision the club made.

Q. What a great season Livi have had so far on their return to the premiership, how much have you enjoyed the season so far and what has been you highlight? A. Yeah it’s been a good season so far but we want to keep going and try get as many points as we can. We have had a little drop in form lately so hopefully we get back to winning ways soon. My highlight personally would probably be my goal against Hibs but highlight for season would be the 1-0 win against Rangers at home or 5-0 win against Hearts.

Q. Your home record this season has been fantastic this season, what do you think the main reason is for this and do you think that the artificial pitch has made as big an impact as people in the media have suggested? A. I think every team wants to make their home place an advantage for themselves and we aren’t any different. Most teams will win more games at home. The pitch is good and when it comes to 3pm on a Saturday it’s 11vs11.

Q. Having played on grass at East End Park and at Livingston prior to this season, have you noticed any real differences playing on the artificial surface this season? Whether that to be with injuries or if it affects the way you play the game? A. To be honest I really enjoy playing on a good Astro. Obviously you pick up little knocks and pains but you get them on grass to. I enjoy playing on both surfaces. I know other players will have different opinions.

Q. Finally, what advice would you give to any young player looking to make it as a pro? A. Just always work hard and if you really want to make it as a footballer you need to sacrifice a lot to make it happen. It’s the best job in the world.

The past few years up until this point have been a very encouraging for Shaun Byrne on the park, climbing through the leagues and improving as a footballer. He will be hoping to finish the season in the same style that he and his team have done so far. A very interesting career in football so far and I suspect there will be plenty more highlights in the near future for Shaun.

I would just like thank Shaun for taking the time out to answer all my questions, its grealty appreciated and wish all the best for the remainder of the season.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed and hopefully this will be the first of many interviews on the website!

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