How former Manchester United midfielder found his true calling in priesthood


FOOTBALL How former Manchester United midfielder found his true calling in priesthood

Festus Chuma 16:06 - 20.01.2024

Former Manchester United midfielder transitions from football fame to a fulfilling life of spirituality and service as a Catholic priest.

Former Manchester United midfielder Philip Mulryne has taken a path less travelled after hanging up his boots, exchanging the glamorous life of a professional footballer for a more spiritual existence as a Catholic priest.

The Northern Irishman, known for his time with Norwich and Cardiff City, was ordained in the Catholic Church in 2017, marking a significant pivot from his earlier career.

Mulryne, who carved his early footballing footsteps at Old Trafford, made a solitary Premier League appearance for Manchester United before a £500,000 transfer took him to Norwich in 1999.

At Carrow Road, he became a fan favourite, making over 150 league appearances for the Norfolk side. Despite subsequent spells at Cardiff City, Leyton Orient, and King's Lynn Town, his career began to wane, leading to his retirement in 2008.

But it was not the usual path of coaching or television punditry that Mulryne chose to tread post-retirement.

At the age of 31, amidst a period of introspection and a growing sense of emptiness despite his success and wealth, Mulryne embarked on a spiritual journey that would redefine his existence.

"I was quite shocked - why am I not happy when I have everything that young men want?" Mulryne reflected during an interview with Norwich's official website.

His rekindled faith led him to volunteer at a homeless shelter, immerse himself in prayer, and eventually, pursue the path of priesthood.

Today, Reverend Father Philip Mulryne oversees a congregation at St. Mary's Priory Church in Cork, far from the football stadiums where he once showcased his talent.

His decision to embrace priesthood, he admits, was not sudden but a result of deep contemplation and a yearning for a more fulfilling existence.

"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," he shared, affirming his conviction and the peace he found in his new vocation.

Yet, Mulryne's life has not been without its share of controversy and hardship.

His football career had its low points, notably being sent home in disgrace from a Northern Ireland squad in 2005 for breaching curfew.

Even his association with glamorous model Nicola Chapman, now a popular beauty and fashion vlogger, is a testament to the stark contrast between his past and present life.

Moreover, Mulryne's financial woes, culminating in a declaration of insolvency at Belfast's High Court in 2016 due to investments in the British film industry, highlight the tumultuous nature of his journey from affluence to spiritual fulfillment.

Mulryne's transformation is not merely a personal triumph but also a source of inspiration and intrigue for many who knew him in his footballing days.

Former teammates like Peter Crouch and Paul McVeigh have expressed their astonishment and admiration for Mulryne's courage and dedication to his newfound purpose.

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