Westlife star Nicky Byrne has thanked his East Antrim fans for their continued support and revealed details of his forthcoming album.
The singer spoke as he prepared to open the Dale Farm Milk Cup 2014 in Coleraine, a football tournament which he himself played in with Home Farm and Leeds United.
Nicky told The Times: “My first Milk Cup was when I was 13 years of age, I came up as a young goalkeeper in the under 14 team for Home Farm, that was my first experience. I didn’t get to play as I was a reserve in case the main keeper, the first choice, got stuck.
“In my second year I would have been 14 and then the under 16s followed up after that, so this will be my fourth time up here.
“But great memories, we always knew about the Milk Cup being one of the biggest youth football tournaments in the world. It was good to play in it and we won the plate one year.
“When you’re a young lad playing football and all you want to do is play professionally you do look to the big tournaments and the Milk Cup, it didn’t get any bigger at that age. You live and breathe as a pro footballer.”
In addition to the hard work, Nicky recalled how the visiting teams had fun while visiting North Coast attractions, including go-karting in Portrush between matches.
Asked if he had any messages for his fans in East Antrim, Nicky replied: “It’s great to be back here. In the Westlife days I always remember the great, great support from the people of Northern Ireland.
“There were always two parts of the world that we referenced that were crazy for Westlife-Asia and Northern Ireland-and we loved coming back here.
“I haven’t ventured back up here to this part of Ireland in a long time so it’s good to be back.
“Hello to everybody and thanks for all the continued support and it’s amazing I’m back up here for the Milk Cup, I never thought I’d see the day!”
Nicky admitted that he could ‘definitely’ be persuaded to perform in East Antrim, and revealed details of his forthcoming album.
He continued: “At the moment I’ve got my own show on RTE2 FM and I’m recording my own stuff-I have seven tracks written and recorded by myself and also with Wayne Hector who was Westlife’s co-songwriter, he wrote ‘Flying without Wings’ and ‘World of our Own’ so yeah you will be hearing something from me very shortly.
“Hopefully it’s by the end of this year, if not certainly next year, and as soon as it’s out there and on the radio then I’ll definitely come back!”
“It’s coming along nicely, it’s the first time I’ve been in a studio on my own really, song writing and co-writing with people and I’m very, very proud of some of the tracks.
“I was actually listening to them in my car on the way up here!”
The star told The Times that while he had only made a flying visit to the East Antrim area in the past, he may visit again. He explained: “When we were performing we came in on a ferry to Larne from Stranraer as it was the quickest way.
“That was the only time I was in Larne, but it’s a good excuse to go back again. Send me the invite,I’m there!”