Paul McGrath is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever to play for the Republic of Ireland. He spent most of his career playing with clubs in the English Premier League and played 83 times for his country. A confident and decisive tackler McGrath is regarded as an outstanding football talent and a great athlete whose preferred playing position was centre back. During his career he continued to play despite having alcohol problems and serious knee injuries which required surgery on several occasions.
Paul McGrath was born in Ealing, London on December 4th 1959. He showed exceptional talent as a footballer from an early age and began his full-time football career with St Patrick’s Athletic in Dublin in 1981. He spent one season with St Patrick’s before moving to England where he joined the Manchester United Club. Over a period of seven seasons McGrath appeared 163 times for the club and scored 12 goals. He won an FA cup medal with Manchester United in 1985.
McGrath moved to the Birmingham club, Aston Villa, in 1989. Again over seven seasons he made 252 appearances and scored 9 goals. He was a member of the team in the club’s victory over Manchester United in the League Cup final in 1994. McGrath left Aston Villa in 1996 and went on to play briefly with Derby County and Sheffield United. He played the final game of his club career, just a month before his 39th birthday, with Ipswich Town on November 9th 1997.
Paul McGrath played his first game for Ireland in a 1985 friendly against Italy at Dalymount Park. He would go on to play for Ireland on 83 occasions and score 8 goals. His appearances included UEFA Euro 1998, FIFA World Cup 1990 in Italy and again in the FIFA World Cup 1994 in the USA. He played his final international for Ireland against Wales in 1997 after which he stated: ‘The thought of retirement is a bit scary, soccer has been my life’. A Testimonial match for Paul McGrath was held in Lansdowne Road in May 1998. Over 37,000 fans attended what was an emotional occasion, in which McGrath made an appearance.
The Paul McGrath testimonial match was announced in Dublin in the year 1998 On This Day.
Villa Park dressing room (1), September 1995 by Ben Sutherland on 1995-09-01 00:00:00
Photo by Ben Sutherland