Phil Mulryne, a former Manchester United footballer who’s shared the field with David Beckham and brought fame to Ireland with 27 in his athletic career; is setting aside his jersey to pursue the vocation of a Catholic Dominican priest.

The career move is a far cry from the post football jobs of some of his former United teammates, with the likes of Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs moving into punditry and property development.

“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.

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“To give oneself completely to God through the profession of the evangelical councils, to take him as our example and despite our weakness and our defects, trust in Him that he will transform us by his grace, and thus being transformed, communicate the joy in knowing him to everyone we meet – this for me is the ideal of Dominican life and one of the major reasons of what attracted me to the order.”

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.

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Philip Mulryne during his ordination as a deacon in the Dominican Order at St Saviour’s church in Dublin

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?

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According to McVeigh, After a series of major injuries at the end of his career in 2008, Mulryne began turning “his life around and was doing a lot of charitable work and helping the homeless on a weekly basis.”

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.

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