Former Manchester United footballer, Philip Mulryne, has made a remarkable career change after retiring from professional football. The 45-year-old Northern Irishman, who spent seven years at Old Trafford, has traded in his football boots for a Roman Catholic priest’s robe. Ordained in 2017, Mulryne now serves as a priest in Cork, Ireland. In a recent interview, he cautioned fans against turning their support for their favorite team into a religion.
Mulryne’s football career at Manchester United began in 1997 when he made his debut. However, due to the abundance of talent in the team, he struggled to secure regular playing time. His only Premier League appearance for the club came on the final day of the 1997-98 season, as United finished second behind Arsenal. Mulryne later joined Norwich in 1999, where his career started to take off before suffering a broken leg.
Despite the setback, Mulryne battled back and became an integral part of the promotion-winning side in the 2003-04 season. He went on to have spells with Cardiff and Leyton Orient before retiring in 2009 at the age of 31. Instead of pursuing a career in coaching, Mulryne chose a different path altogether and trained to become a Roman Catholic priest.
In his footballing days, Mulryne earned a substantial salary of £600,000 per year. However, he admitted that he grew tired of the materialistic aspects of the game, such as money, cars, nightclubs, and attention from women. Seeking a deeper purpose in life, he decided to dedicate himself to the church.
Mulryne’s journey led him to be ordained as a priest for the Dominican Order in 2017. He currently serves at St. Mary’s Priory Church in Cork. Reflecting on the relationship between sport and religion, Mulryne stated that while sport can teach great virtues, it should not be treated as a religion. He emphasized that the word “religion” comes from the Latin word “Religare,” meaning to bind or rebind oneself to God. In a similar sense, people bind themselves together in support of a particular club, but it should not replace true religious worship.
Former teammate Peter Crouch, who played alongside Mulryne on loan at Norwich, shared his thoughts on Mulryne’s career change. Crouch revealed that they enjoyed many nights out together during their time at Norwich. Crouch jokingly suggested that perhaps their time together influenced Mulryne’s decision to pursue a different path in life.
Mulryne is not the only former Premier League footballer who has found a calling within the church after retiring from professional football. Gavin Peacock, a former Chelsea and Newcastle player, relocated to Canada in 2008 to study theology. He is now a pastor at Calvary Grace Church in Calgary.
Philip Mulryne’s transition from professional footballer to Roman Catholic priest is a testament to his personal journey and the pursuit of a higher calling. His story serves as a reminder that there is more to life than fame and fortune, and that true fulfillment can be found in serving others and deepening one’s spiritual connection. While Mulryne’s footballing days may be behind him, his new role as a priest allows him to continue making a positive impact on the lives of others.