By Steve Thompson | Thai Football Editor
Michael Byrne was the first British-born player to play in the Thai Premier League (TPL) and Steve Thompson caught up with the exciting midfielder following his recent move from Bangkok Glass to the newly-promoted Chainat FC.
Byrne's Chainat career certainly got off to a predictably productive start when the attacking midfielder scored a brace during the club's recent 4-4 draw with the high-flying former TPL champions Muang Thong United.
Goal.com: At 26, you seem like a virtual 'veteran' in the Thai game, having built up so much playing experience (four clubs [Nakhon Pathom, Chonburi, Bangkok Glass and Chainat]) over a short time (three years). Could you reveal what brought about your move to Chainat?
Michael Byrne: Well, I was doing really well when I first went to Bangkok Glass (July 2010), but when the new season started we had a new coach and we didn't see eye to eye from the word 'go', so I took the first chance I had to go and enjoy my football again.
Goal.com: Why did you opt to sign for Chainat?
MB: I went to Chainat because I know many of the players there and they told me how good it was and how professionally the club is run. Also, the president is a very nice, honest man, who I have a great deal of respect for and must thank for helping me with everything.
Goal.com: Which period of your time in Thailand has been the most productive in terms of your football?
MB: When I was at Chonburi FC (2009) under 'Zico' (Kiatisuk Senamuang), it was very productive for me and my confidence was very high. Everything about the football was right, like the training and the games, along with my relationship with the coach.
"I've played in the 'B' team over the past two years, but I think I'd really have to play in Europe again to be in with a chance of getting back in"
Goal.com: Do you have a ‘best mate’ among your fellow pros?
MB: I have many friends in football, but I'd have to say that my best friends are Douglas Cobo, the Brazilian centre back at Sri Racha FC. Alex Lawless, a fellow Wales international currently playing at Luton Town, along with Andrew Welsh, currently at Carlisle United. Andrew is my closest friend since we went to school together and both played at Stockport County.
Goal.com: You've represented Wales at U-21 level, are you still involved in the Wales setup?
MB: I've played in the 'B' team over the past two years, but I think I'd really have to play in Europe again to be in with a chance of getting back in.
Goal.com: Who is your all time favourite Wales international player and why?
MB: I'd have to say Ryan Giggs, just because of how successful he's been and because he's a model professional.
Goal.com: Which of your goals in the TPL do you consider to be your best?
MB: My favourite would have to be the one from the halfway line for Chonburi against BEC Tero Sasana. But I’ve been very lucky as I’ve scored for every club I’ve played for on my debut (including Stockport and Chainat).
Goal.com: How do you find the game in Thailand?
MB: It’s more technical than people think and the standard is very good. People who come over from lower leagues in Europe and think it’s easy to play in Thailand get a shock when they arrive and don’t get contracts because they aren’t good enough.
Goal.com: Which aspects of the modern game frustrate you most?
MB: I guess refs are an obvious choice, but you need to learn to just shut out any feelings, as it can’t change anything and leaves you frustrated, which just affects your game.
"My family are a big inspiration to me because they have been there through thick and thin and I would like them to feel proud of their son"
Goal.com: Who is your favorite Thai player?
MB: I like Teerasil Dangda. Among the foreign players, I would go for Dagno Siaka from Muang Thong United because he’s been consistently good over the years that I’ve been here.
Goal.com: What has impressed you most so far about your new club and its ambitions?
MB: It’s a small family club, but the boss is a local man who loves the team. He's very ambitious and I’m sure that if we are all in this together, we can give him what his hard work deserves. Last year, the team was attracting 6,000 fans, and the owner is planning to build a new stadium with a capacity of 20,000, which, hopefully, we'll fill.
Goal.com: Who has been your greatest inspiration during your career?
MB: My family are a big inspiration to me because they have been there through thick and thin and I would like them to feel proud of their son. My mentor would have to be Frank Stapleton. I learned so much from him when I was at Bolton Wanderers. He’s a very good man. I also get inspiration from my son because I’d like to do my best so that I can provide a great life for him.