By Robert McNamara

Phillip Mulryne may not be one of the names that immediately springs to mind when thinking about Alex Ferguson's great Manchester United teams, but the former Northern Ireland international was a highly rated youth prospect in the '90s

Mulryne, from Belfast, was a member of the club's Youth Cup winning team of 1995 and was tipped for big things.

The midfielder made 27 appearances for Northern Ireland, scoring three goals, and played five times in the United first team.

However, after failing to make an impact on Red Devil's midfield – which featured Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs at the time – he moved on to Norwich City where he became a firm fan favourite.

Birmingham City 4 Man Utd 3. July 1998. Youngster Phil Mulryne scored a hat-trick but United still lost #Friendly

— Michael H (@MikeH2999) October 22, 2015

He is now embarking on a very different way of life and is just one year away from becoming a Catholic priest in the Dominican Order after he made his Solemn Profession last Sunday.

The 38-year-old, who meandered around the Football League after leaving Norwich, retired from football in 2008 and has been studying to become a priest since 2009.

His vocation is in stark contrast to some of the stories that marked his career as a professional footballer.

Mulryne and teammate Jeff Whitley were suspended for two Northern Ireland World Cup qualifying games in 2005 by then manager Lawrie Sanchez after breaking a curfew and he also dated model Nicola Chapman for a time.

ON THIS DAY | In 2004, Phil Mulryne's stunning strike saw #NCFC win 1-0 away to @ReadingFC on their way to the title.

— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) April 12, 2015

He made the decision to become a priest when his football career came to an end and he began doing charity work.

Left to right: Bro Philip Mulryne OP, Bro Matthew Farrell OP, fr Gregory Carroll OP (provincial), Bro Jesse Maingot OP and Bro Michael Ronan O' Dubhghaill OP Credit: Irish Dominican Vocations Blog – Fr Ciaran Dougherty OP

Although he has rarely spoken about his desire to enter the priesthood, he did talk about his faith in a video made by the Dominican Order to mark his first profession – a stage in the process of becoming a priest – in 2013.

"After the reading of the Gospel, each brother presents themselves to their provincial and he places his hands in his and makes a profession to God, to blessed Mary and to blessed Dominic.

"This for me was one of the major reasons that attracted me to the religious life, 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 him that he will transform us by his grace."

He is now just a year away from being ordained and will spend the next 12 months studying theology and pastoral care.