Burn Budgie Byrne

THE life and career of Hammers legend Johnny Byrne is celebrated in a brand new book, Burn Budgie Burn - Football Inferno, by lifelong Hammers supporter Brian Belton, which is available now.

The diminutive striker, affectionately known as 'Budgie', was brought to Upton Park by Ron Greenwood in March 1962 for a then British record fee of £67,000.

He made his Hammers debut in the same month at Sheffield Wednesday, and went on to become one of the Club's greatest and most popular players.

'Budgie' played for West Ham during one of the most successful periods in the Club's history, and the man born in Surrey to Irish parents, helped lift the Hammers first FA Cup at Wembley in 1964 and the European Cup Winners Cup beneath the Twin Towers a year later.

He left the Club in February 1967 to rejoin Crystal Palace, where he stayed for a year before moving on to join Fulham. Sadly, persistent knee trouble and problems controlling his weight curtailed Budgie's career in England.

But that would not be the end for Johnny Byrne in football. In the early 1970's Budgie moved to South Africa, where he played and later coached Durban City on his way to becoming an influential figure in the South African game. He also had spells in charge of Hellenic and Cape Town Spurs.

A man who lived and breathed football, Budgie was involved in the game right up to his death from a sudden heart attack in October 1999.

He will forever be remembered as the dynamo centre-forward who dressed as stylishly as he played, and was blessed with one of the biggest characters in the game.  

• Among the other West Ham United related books written by Brian Belton are: Days of Iron; Bubbles Hammers And Dreams and Johnnie The One - The John Charles Story.

Burn Budgie Burn - Football Inferno is available now in hard-back, priced £16.99