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Gone but not forgotten:
Terry Byrne
Position: Minister Without Portfolio
From: Chelsea - July 2001
To: David Beckham Enterprises Inc. - December 2003
He was: Handy

"What does he do, though?"

A remarkable tale, of an apparently remarkable man. Brought to the club as part of Luca Vialli's extensive and varied entourage - rumour had it that he was the team unicyclist, or somesuch - Terry Byrne was for some time held up as one of the many examples of waste and excess during the Italian's reign. What does he do, indeed? He was a masseur, it seemed...and he also fulfilled that role for the England team. Did we really need a bloody masseur?

A couple of years later, and we've long realised the value of this masseur. For whatever his job title, Terry Byrne's influence has spread throughout the club, positive and dynamic and undeniable. By the time of his departure, to become David Beckham's personal assistant in Madrid, that job title had changed to "director of football"...but even that just seemed to be a label for the benefit of the accountant, for his role seemed to encompass anything and everything that would enable others to do their jobs to full potential.

As outsiders, we can only ever gain a vague, shadowy impression of what really goes on behind closed doors. Which is almost certainly a good thing, for much of our loyalty and fervour comes from that vague, shadowy impression, rather than anything more detailed. That's even more true in this case, when the person involved had no responsibilities outside of those closed doors and was seen only as a background figure. Sometimes, though, the public pronouncements tell everything that needs to be told, making the detail irrelevant.

The fact that spontaneous and lengthy tributes to Terry Byrne have been paid by people at all levels of the club, from players through management to the board, speaks volumes. That they've all highlighted different aspects of his contribution, from buying supplies for the team coach to arranging the loans of players like Danny Webber and Jimmy Davis, says even more. He solved problems, essentially...and without worrying whether those problems were above or beneath him, which is a much rarer quality than you'd imagine.

He'll be missed, then. We'll find out what he did soon enough, when somebody else has to do it.

Ian Grant