John Byrne

Interview by Brian Leng

Back in 1992 John Byrne and his FA Cup goalscoring exploits fired him into Wearside football folklore. And, all these years on, Byrne says barely a day goes by without him recalling his spell in the famous red and white stripes.

Now based on the South coast, Byrne has qualified as a podiatrist - a specialist in leg injuries - and also covers Brighton and Hove Albion games for both the local media and Sky TV. But he will always be remembered by Sunderland fans as the man who scored in every round as the Black Cats reached the FA Cup final 13 years back.

"It just takes someone to mention one of the teams we played on that FA Cup run and that's me off down memory lane," Byrne chuckled.

"To be honest, I don't think I've ever fully recovered from missing that sitter in the final at Wembley - 13 minutes and 20 seconds gone, chance to put us in front, and I fluffed it.

"I think about that one about five times a day - and no matter how many times I replay it in my head it doesn't look any better.

But we had a couple of unforgettable ties against Chelsea in the quarter-finals back in 1992." Sunderland had looked on their way out of the Cup at Stamford Bridge - until Byrne popped up with an equaliser to set up a replay and one of the most memorable nights in Roker Park's illustrious history.

"We'd had our backs to the wall for most of the first game at Stamford Bridge, but kept battling away and I managed to nick an equaliser with a header to keep my record of scoring in every round going," Byrne recalls.

"Then we beat them 2-1 with a late Gordon Armstrong header in the replay - and what a night that was!"

Byrne admits he was amazed just how big a club Sunderland were when he first signed for them back in October 1991.

"It's a different club to the one I played for - though Sunderland were a big club even when I joined, far bigger than I thought, and you didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise if they took off they could be one of the biggest clubs in the country," Byrne said.

"My only regret is that I joined the club too late - Denis Smith wanted to sign me to play up front with Marco Gabbiadini a few years before I actually came and I wish that had come off!

"I think he got Eric Gates in the end!"