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Paul McGrath calls it a career

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN – Paul McGrath, who is widely regarded as the finest player to represent the Republic of Ireland, has been forced to retire from soccer at the age of 38. McGrath accepted last week that a long series of knee injuries had finally taken their toll.

McGrath described his decision as the “day he always dreaded.” Without question a world-class performer, he made a record 83 appearances for Ireland.

“The Irish produced some great players over the last 10 to 15 years,” said former Republic manager Jack Charlton, “and of these Paul McGrath was the greatest. In his time, he was among the best center backs in the world.”

During a long career in which he moved from Dublin club St. Patrick’s Athletic to Manchester United, and, finally, on to Sheffield United via Derby County, McGrath collected both English FA Cup and League Cup winners medals.

However, his displays for Ireland were to win him cult status. His performances during the 1990 World Cup in Italy earned him selection in a World X1 and four years later he was acclaimed after an historic Irish World Cup victory over Italy at the Giants Stadium.

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“The thought of retirement is a bit scary,” McGrath admitted. “Soccer has been my life. I’m planning to run a series of coaching courses during the summer with Frank Stapleton, but, as of now, that’s the only plan I have.”

McGrath’s testimonial game between a Republic of Ireland team and a side selected by Jack Charlton, which is expected to generate revenue in the region of $750,000, takes place at Lansdowne Road on May 17.

Meanwhile, Ireland play a friendly international against Argentina in Dublin today. Steve Staunton captains the side in the absence of the injured Kenny Cunningham, while emerging star Damien Duff also misses the game through injury.

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