Former Norwich City and Manchester United footballer Phil Mulryne currently in Rome training to be a priest

The highs and lows of football can often leave supporters looking for divine intervention.

But one former Norwich City midfielder is entering the priesthood.

Phil Mulryne, who joined City from Manchester United, is currently training in Rome to become a Catholic priest, having enrolled at the Pontifical Irish College.

Rumours of the Northern Irishman's intention to train as a priest became well-known in the summer of 2010, two years after he had retired from the game after a spell with King's Lynn, aged just 30. A glimpse into the much-changed life of the former central midfielder has been given by one of his former Canaries colleagues however, Paul McVeigh.

Mr McVeigh – an increasingly popular media pundit – spoke of a recent trip to visit his friend and former Northern Ireland international colleague, now 34 years old, on his blog at

'Unfortunately, Phil struggled with injuries towards the end of his career,' Mr McVeigh explained, 'and decided to stop playing and move back to Belfast and try and decide what he'd do with the rest of his days.

'To my amazement, and most likely to the rest of the footballing fraternity, Phil decided to train to become a Catholic priest.

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'I was still in contact with him and knew that he had turned his life around and was doing a lot of charitable work and helping the homeless on a weekly basis. Still, it was a complete shock that he felt this was his calling.'

Mr Mulryne moved to Carrow Road for �500,000 in 1998 among much hype, having trained with stars such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs at Manchester United.

He proceeded to show Canaries' fans exactly what he had learned from training alongside Beckham by curling home an exquisite free-kick on his debut, a 1-0 win away at Grimsby Town. However, a broken leg soon stopped his fledgling career in its tracks.

He returned to play a key role in City's charge to the Division One play-off final in 2002 and the Division One title in 2004 but played a bit-part role in the ill-fated Premier League campaign which followed.

In 2005 his injuries saw him leave Norwich and begin dropping down the Football League, with brief spells at Cardiff City and Leyton Orient, before bringing his career to a close with King's Lynn.

Mr McVeigh continued: '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.

'When I arrived in Rome, I was met by a very contented looking Phil who took me back to the Irish college where he was to be based for the next four years.'

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