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Ex-City star 'to train for priesthood'

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:58 06 July 2010

A former Norwich City and Northern Ireland midfielder is reportedly swapping his football kit for a cassock.

Phil Mulryne, 31, is to begin training for the priesthood, it was reported yesterday.

A former Norwich City and Northern Ireland midfielder is reportedly swapping his football kit for a cassock.

Phil Mulryne, 31, is to begin training for the priesthood, according to a newspaper report.

It is understood he has been invited to take holy orders by the Bishop of Down and Connor and that in seven years he could be ordained as a priest in the diocese.

His mother, Sally, confirmed her son's vocation to a Sunday newspaper, saying that it was a "big decision" for him but that he would be starting at the end of August.

Mr Mulryne, who won 27 caps for Northern Ireland and scored three goals, joined City for £500,000 in March 1999 from Manchester United, where he had found it difficult to break into the first team.

He made 178 appearances for the Canaries, scoring 20 goals. His first came in a 1-0 victory at Grimsby, and his second in a 2-2 draw with Tranmere, in which he captained the Norwich team.

Phil Mulryne missed most of the 1999/2000 season after a horrific foul by Christian Dailly of Blackburn in August 1999, returning to action six months later.

He played for City in the 2002 Division One play-off final, missing a spot kick as they lost 4-2 to Birmingham on penalties. The following season he made 37 appearances, finishing second-highest scorer with eight goals.

However, he fell out of favour with manager Nigel Worthington during City's season in the Premiership and left by mutual agreement in May 2005, joining Cardiff City.

He made just four appearances for the Welsh club before moving to Leyton Orient on a short-term contract, but was released at the end of the 2006/07 season.

He had trials with clubs including Aberdeen and St Mirren, and signed a short-term contract with King's Lynn but was released in December 2007. Since then he has reportedly been training with Northern Irish clubs Cliftonville and Linfield, saying in an interview: "I haven't had much success getting a club in England so I've decided to come home and give the Irish League a go."

Mr Mulryne is believed to have been doing charity outreach work on the streets of Belfast in recent months. He could not be contact-ed for comment yesterday as it is understood he is currently on retreat.

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