Player Profile: Paul McGrath
London born Paul McGrath initiated his footballing career at St Patrick’s Athletic before the midfielder was brought to Manchester United where he was converted into one of the finest central defenders in the the league by manager Ron Atkinson. While at the club, he amassed 163 league appearances and gained an FA Cup medal in 1985.
By then Paul McGrath´s high profile professional career was at its absolute peak and he was expected by most football pundits to follow in the footsteps of great Manchester United players of the past such as Bill Foulkes and David Sadler. But Foulkes and Sadler never stayed out drinking until the early hours like McGrath did. Tragically, the increasingly frustrated footballer turned to alcohol and sedatives to cope with the pressures around him and he would hold his breath during matches to avoid smelling of drink. After falling out with Manchester United supremo Alex Ferguson in the summer of 1989, the centre half was subsequently dispatched to Aston Villa where he received a new lease of life and he was deservedly voted the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1993. A firm favourite with the home supporters, the commanding stopper helped The Villains win the Football League Cup before he decided to join newly promoted English Premier League side Derby County in the autumn of 1996. Despite his dazzling skills, he failed to settle down at Baseball Ground and he moved on to Sheffield United the following year after spending just one season with The Rams. Capped 83 times by his native country, Paul McGrath made his full international debut for the Republic of Ireland in a close 2–1 defeat against Italy at Dalymount Park in February 1985 and he was a member of the now legendary Irish side which rose to prominence under shrewd manager Jackie Charlton. But unfortunately, his personal problems upset the sweet roll of success and his drinking habits forced him to announce his retirement from the game of football in 1998. Paul McGrath Club Career: St Patrick’s Athletic, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Derby, Sheffield United.