EMPICS Sport Byrne has six goals in this season's UEFA Youth League.
# One to Watch
Jack Byrne is the Irish teenager leading Man City's charge for European glory
The 18-year-old midfielder scored his sixth goal of the competition last night and has earned comparisons with Paul Scholes for his performances.

MANCHESTER CITY’S FIRST team may have lost out to Barcelona in the Champions League last night, but their U19s side were booking their place in a European quarter-final.

Patrick Vieira’s Elite Development Squad have been hugely impressive in the Uefa Youth League this season, topping their group with maximum points from six matches against AS Roma, Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow.

Jack Byrne, from Ballybough in Dublin, starred in every one of those victories and was once again pivotal yesterday when City faced Schalke in their round of 16 tie.

The midfielder drove home the opening goal late in the first half (he is the club’s current top scorer in the competition with six goals from seven games) before the Germans pulled one back in injury time to send the game to penalties.

Byrne then kept his composure to step up and dispatch the home team’s first spot-kick as they went on to win 3-0 in the shootout.

Manchester City FC / YouTube

Still just 18, Byrne was recently compared to his boyhood idol Paul Scholes by former City and Ireland striker Niall Quinn while manager Vieira sang his praises back in November.

“What I like about Jack is his personality,” Vieira told the Manchester Evening News. “He doesn’t get scared at all, he just plays his football and some of his passing in Moscow was excellent.

“He can be different to Scholes, who was more about getting in the box – he scores more goals than Jack, so I think Jack will be a different type of player. But they are both great on the ball.

“Jack is really young and not afraid – he really wants to play. He has taken the responsibility, and is a strong boy.

Physically he is not impressive at all, but his technique and first touch are excellent and he always likes to play forwards.

“Now he needs to keep playing, keep working hard and like all the lads at this club he needs to take the opportunity that presents itself. If he keeps working hard, the chance will come for him to challenge himself at a different level.”

Despite the World Cup-winning Frenchman’s comments about Byrne’s goalscoring exploits, he has shown that he is well capable of finding the target against he likes of Bayern Munich (where he bagged two) and Roma.

Jack Byrne goal 1 YouTube YouTube

Jack Byrne goal 2 YouTube YouTube

Jack Byrne goal 3 YouTube YouTube

“We’re very confident going into every game,” Byrne said. “But we were especially confident this year when we seen the draw.

“When we beat Bayern Munich 4-1 it gave us a lot of confidence as you can see as we went on and didn’t lose a game from there so it was brilliant for the boys.

“We’re Man City and we should be beating everybody. We’ve got some of the best players from around the world in our youth team and it’s a pleasure to play with them so why don’t we believe we can go out and beat everyone.

“Hopefully we can go all the way, that’s the plan. We’re definitely good enough.”

A product of DDSL heavyweights St Kevin’s Boys, Byrne was wanted by several club across the water but admits his mind was made up as soon as he visited the current Premier League champions at the age of 13.

Jack Byrne and Iver Fossum Byrne in action for the Ireland U19s against Norway.

Another Dubliner, goalkeeper Ian Lawlor, is a couple of years Byrne’s senior and made a similar move from Home Farm a year before him in 2010.

On the international stage, Byrne has represented Ireland at U17, U19 and featured for the U21s last year. He will be hoping to be named in Noel King’s squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers, which begin on 26 March.

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