Nicky Byrne always fondly remembers the years he spent in the UK playing as a professional goalkeeper at Leeds United.
While he made his fortune in music, radio and TV rather than on the pitch, Nicky often pops back on the gloves and gets back between the sticks as much as possible in celebrity charity tournaments and the like.
It seems that his love for the game has been passed on to his young son Rocco, who’s talent secured him a spot on the Shelbourne FC first team for a pre-season friendly at Tolka Park on Saturday night.
It’s not everyday that a 15-year-old is named on a first team League of Ireland squad, but Rocco has shown that with talent and determination, anything is possible.
Proud dad Nicky wrote on social media: ‘A moment to cherish for my young lad Rocco. 15yrs old and on the bench for Shelbourne first team in a pre season friendly at Tolka Park.’
He said it was an ‘unbelievable experience’ for him.
Nicky has been a keen supporter of Rocco’s football dream since he was a little boy, and has been a fixture on the sideline as Rocco trained and played for some of the best clubs in Dublin, including Shamrock Rovers and St. Pat’s.
He often talks about how his own dad, the late Nicky Senior, was a ‘huge influence’ on his game growing up, and wants the same for his son- although he has admitted in the past that he has to hold himself back when it comes to shouting words of advice during matches.
In the past, Nicky said: ‘My dad, who passed away in 2009, was a huge influence, especially with football. He was a goalkeeper as well.
‘So I have vivid memories growing up in Baldoyle and out the back garden… with my dad kicking goals with me and teaching me technique more than anything else.
‘He used to stand behind the goal and I do it myself now.’
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Rocco and his team were taking on Treaty United at home in the pre-season friendly, which they won 2-1.