An ex-Manchester United footballer is now an ordained Roman Catholic priest presiding over a congregation in Ireland, having given up his football career years ago.
While Phil Mulryne only ever made one appearance for United, he did have a relatively successful career in sport, featuring more than 150 times for Norwich City, as well as playing for Cardiff City, a number of non-league teams, and the Northern Irish national team.
Coming through the Premier League giants’ academy, Mulryne made only one appearance in the league back in 1999 before departing for Norwich.
There, he became a staple in the team and even helped guide the Canaries back into the Premier League from his place in central midfield.
Leaving the club, he tumbled down the leagues, eventually turning up at King’s Lynn Town before deciding to retire in 2008.
During his career, he also gained 27 senior caps for Northern Ireland, something few footballers achieve.
Not bad, all things considered.
Then, still only 31 years old, he decided to enter the Catholic priesthood after losing his love for the game and seeking a higher meaning in his life.
He turned down a career that had seen him earning £600,000 at its peak for a life of abstinence and contemplation, heading off to St Malachy’s seminary in Belfast and studying philosophy at Queen’s University for two years.
Of his decision to become a priest, Mulryne once told Norwich’s club website: "It’s hard to pin down a particular moment [that influenced his decision].
“I would say it started in my last year at Norwich, not explicitly and I wasn’t thinking about it at that time but I started to get dissatisfied with the whole lifestyle.
"We have a wonderful life as a footballer and I was very privileged, but I found with all the surrounding stuff that eventually there was a kind of emptiness with it. I was quite shocked - why am I not happy when I have everything that young men want?”
He continued: "It started me on a journey towards exploring my faith again, the faith that I had as a young man.
“I took a decision to come home for a year and it was really during that year that everything turned upside down.
"I volunteered at a homeless shelter for a while.
“I started going back to mass and I started praying again on a regular basis.
“I just found a real sense of fulfilment with it.
“Football was huge highs and lows and here was something that was giving me a steady sense of contentment."
Since 2017, Mulryne has been ordained as a priest in the Dominican Order, serving the parish of St Mary’s Priory Church in Cork.
He’s now the Reverend Father Philip Mulryne, and couldn’t be happier with his lot.
He said: "My vocation to priesthood and religious life came later in the course of that year.
"I felt this strong desire for this way of life and I stayed with it for a few months and then got the courage up to explore it and I took the decision and it’s now eight years later."
Featured Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Topics: Sport, Football, Ireland, Manchester United