You might have heard of Phil Mulryne, a Manchester United footballer who’s shared the field with David Beckham and brought fame to Ireland with 27 caps – international appearances – in his athletic career.
But now, Mulryne is setting aside his jersey to pursue the vocation of a Catholic Dominican priest.
“This for me was one of the major reasons that attracted me to the religious life,” Mulryne said in a video interview posted by the Daily Mail.
Mulryne, a 38-year old Irishman, began his career in football as a kid in 1994 when he attended the Manchester United youth academy, and eventually joined the Norwich league in 1999.
His teammates were among the many of his surprised acquaintances to find out that he gave up his global fame and £500,000 in career earnings to pursue the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Catholic priest.
“It was a complete shock that he felt this was his calling,” fellow footballer Paul McVeigh said, according to the Daily News.
After a series of major injuries at the end of his career in 2008, Mulryne was faced with the future: how would he spend his post-footballing days?
“I know for a fact that this is not something he took lightly as the training to be ordained as a Catholic priest consists of a two-year philosophy degree, followed by a four-year theology degree and only after that will he finally be qualified as a priest,” McVeigh said.
In 2009, the Irish native entered the Irish Pontifical College in Rome, where he has been pursuing the priesthood through studies in philosophy and theology.
Last week on Oct. 30, he was ordained a deacon in Belfast by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, and is set for priestly ordination in 2017.