Phil Mulryne was once a Manchester United star of the future – but now he is a Roman Catholic priest after quitting football and getting bored of money.
Mulryne started his career at the Red Devils and progressed through the club’s academy, but made just one Premier League appearance before joining Norwich for a fee in the region of £500,000 in 1999. He became a fans’ favourite in Norfolk as the Canaries won promotion back to the top-flight, making 161 league appearances in total at Carrow Road.
Having departed Norwich to join Cardiff in 2005, Mulryne’s career began to spiral down as he struggled for game time in Wales and also spent time at Leyton Orient and King’s Lynn Town, before retiring from football in 2008. He was also capped 27 times by Northern Ireland.
“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?
“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.”
Mulryne had originally intended to become a secular priest and so entered Saint Malachy’s Seminary, Belfast, where he studied philosophy for two years at Queen’s University Belfast. Having felt a call to a religious life during his studies, Mulryne has since been ordained a priest for the Dominican Order in 2017.
He currently oversees a congregation at St. Mary’s Priory Church in Cork and now goes by the title of Reverend Father Philip Mulryne. He added whilst unveiling more details about his life change: “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.”