Jack Byrne is desperate to get his hands on the International Premier League Cup on Friday night.
The Elite Development Squad host Porto at the Academy Stadium in the inaugural final of Europe’s latest continental competition and the Ireland youth international believes it is a fantastic achievement to reach this stage.
However, after tasting disappointment at the final hurdle of the u18 league last term and part of the team that was unlucky to go down to Roma in the quarter finals of the UEFA Youth League, he is seeking nothing less than a win against the Portuguese heavyweights.
Byrne told mcfc.co.uk: “Getting to the final feels like a reward for the way we’ve played and the hard work this season, but it will mean nothing if we don’t win it.
“Last year we fell short in the national final against Everton after winning the u18 north league, and this year we got knocked out of the Youth League while the younger lads lost out in the Youth Cup final.
“So we know how it feels to end a final with disappointment and it would be great to end this time with a win. We’re really looking forward to it, and it’s a great opportunity to show what we can do.”
Patrick Vieira’s young charges have had a varied route to the final – after finishing as group runners-up, they overcame Celtic on penalties in the quarter finals and then came from behind to see off Leicester in extra time last time out.
The last two games in this competition have required character and grit as well as a talent from a squad that contains more than a handful of players who remain eligible for Jason Wilcox’s u18 side, and Jack believes that showing they can overcome adversity will give the team extra confidence going into the final.
“We want to win every single game – even when it went to penalties against Celtic, we still thought we could win,” he asserted. “Angus Gunn made some unbelievable saves from them and then when it got to it the lads held their nerve to score the penalties.
“I think that gives us real confidence going into the next games, and against Leicester we showed that when things are looking tough we stick together and we can grind out results even when we aren’t playing to our best.
“There are no easy games, and we know Porto have got to this final so they are going to be a decent side. We have to prepare properly and play as well as we can do.”
Jack is under no illusions about the size of the task that faces City if they are to triumph over their Portuguese opponents, and he insists no team will have got to the final by accident.
However, he believes that if City play as well as they can do they will give themselves every chance of adding another piece of silverware to the club’s cabinet.
Said the 19-year-old: “Porto won 3-0 against Fulham who are a good team themselves, and to get to the final of a cup is good achievement.
“I think it will come down to who hands the occasion the best. We know that if we play our football and play the way we know we can do and the way we’ve been playing all season then we have a good chance of winning.
“Patrick will prepare us and we will have a gameplan we need to stick to. He’ll tell us to enjoy it, to give everything on the pitch and to not have any regrets at the end.
"We’re looking forward to the challenge and it would be really good to end this season on a high with some silverware.
“To play in a European final at this level, it doesn’t get much bigger than that at this stage of our careers and we are desperate to win it.”