McGrath in 2018
|Full name||Paul McGrath|
|Date of birth||4 December 1959|
|Place of birth||Greenford, England|
|1981–1982||St Patrick's Athletic||26||(4)|
|1997||→ Sheffield United (loan)||7||(0)|
|1985–1997||Republic of Ireland||83||(8)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Paul McGrath (born 4 December 1959) is an Irish former professional footballer, who played as a defender. Mainly a centre back, he also played as defensive midfielder. McGrath is widely considered to be one of the greatest Irish players of all time. He spent the majority of his career at Aston Villa and Manchester United (seven seasons apiece). He is one of only six defenders to have won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. He also played for St Patrick's Athletic, Derby County and Sheffield United.
Also a long-time member of the Republic of Ireland national team, he appeared at the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1988, the team's first-ever international tournament.
McGrath was born in Greenford, Middlesexto an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. His father disappeared soon after his conception. His mother, Betty McGrath, was terrified that her father would find out she had become pregnant outside marriage and in an interracial relationship. She travelled in secret to London to have her child, who was considered illegitimate, and gave him up for fostering in Ireland when he was four weeks old.
When he was five years old, one of the daughters of the family he had been fostered by came to Betty to say they could not control him. At that stage his mother had him back for a number of days before having to put him into an orphanage. Despite being Paul McGrath on his birth certificate, the admission form required the name of the father, hence he was known as Paul Nwobilo for a time.
McGrath made his debut in a League of Ireland Cup clash with the Shamrock Rovers on 30 August 1981 at Richmond Park. Manager Charlie Walker stated in his notes in the match programme that "Since the end of last season I have been acquiring new players: three are local lads from junior clubs- Billy Reid (Fatima Rangers), Paul McGrath (Dalkey United) and John Cleary (Ballyfermot United). Given a time and a little encouragement I feel that by the end of the season they will have done the club proud."He ultimately excelled at The Saints, earning the nickname "The Black Pearl of Inchicore".
In 1982, McGrath moved to Manchester United, then managed by Ron Atkinson. He missed out on a place in the FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion the following year, but soon ousted Gordon McQueen to become the regular partner to Kevin Moran in the centre of defence.
In 1985–86, it appeared that McGrath was on course to pick up a league title medal after United won their first 10 league games of the season, but injuries to key players including Bryan Robson soon took their toll on the side and they eventually finished fourth in the table, 12 points behind champions Liverpool.A dismal start to the 1986–87 season saw Ron Atkinson sacked as manager and replaced by Alex Ferguson in November 1986, but McGrath initially remained a regular member of the first team. United finished second behind Liverpool in the league a year later.
By the 1988–89 season, McGrath was struggling with knee injuries and was becoming a less regular member of the first team, facing competition from new signings Steve Bruce and Mal Donaghy. His relationship with manager Ferguson was becoming strained.
During the late 1980s McGrath was offered terms at S.S.C. Napoli, but the deal did not come to fruition.McGrath signed for Aston Villa in August 1989. While at Villa, McGrath played some of the best football of his career, despite recurrent problems in his knees. Villa came close to winning the title in McGrath's first season, finishing second to Liverpool. The next season saw the club fighting relegation for much of the campaign, after boss Graham Taylor left to take control of England. Despite the managerial upheaval, McGrath's performances continued to impress. Under Jozef Vengloš, the first top flight manager to hail from the European mainland, McGrath became a consistent mainstay of the Villa line up. After Vengloš' solitary season (1990–91) at Villa, Ron Atkinson took over, building one of the finest sides of the early Premier League era. In the inaugural season of the Premier League (1992–93), Aston Villa again finished as runners-up, behind Manchester United. As a sign of the regard he was now held in by his fellow professionals, McGrath won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
He played his final game as a professional for Sheffield United against Ipswich Town on 9 November 1997, just before his 38th birthday. He officially retired at the end of the season.
In 1990, the Republic of Ireland qualified for its first FIFA World Cup, in 1990 in Italy, eventually reaching the quarter-finals, where they lost to the hosts (1–0 in Rome), with McGrath ever present in the lineups (five matches, 480 minutes played). He captained the team four times in 1992 after the retirement of Mick McCarthy.
In the Republic of Ireland's opening game of the 1994 World Cup – a 1–0 win against favourites Italy, thanks to Ray Houghton's early goal – in a perfect example of his commitment to the game, McGrath put up an astonishing defensive performance in spite of excruciating knee problems, including blocking a shot from Roberto Baggio with his face.
McGrath suffers from alcoholism, and missed occasional matches as a result.In an interview with FourFourTwo, he admitted to playing football while still under the influence of alcohol; additionally, his recurrent knee problems resulted in him undergoing a total of eight operations during his career. McGrath's autobiography, Back from the Brink, co-written with journalist Vincent Hogan, was the inaugural winner of the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year (2006).
Upon retiring, he settled in Monageer, County Wexford. In 2004, one year after being taken to court, charged with a breach of the peace,McGrath returned to the football world after five years, moving to Waterford United in Ireland as director of football.
In 2011, McGrath recorded a cover version of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King song "Goin' Back".He followed that single up with an 11 track album released in 2011 with going to his two designated charities the Acquired Brain Injury Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Ireland.
On 29 June 2013, McGrath was arrested over an alleged public order offence at a hotel in County Offaly. He was bailed and appeared at Tullamore district court on 17 July.
|St Patrick's Athletic||1981–82||League of Ireland||26||4||26||4|
|Manchester United||1982–83||First Division||14||3||1||0||1||0||16||3|
|Aston Villa||1989–90||First Division||35||1||5||0||7||0||47||1|
|Derby County||1996–97||Premier League||24||0||2||0||0||0||26||0|
|Sheffield United||1997–98||First Division||12||0||0||0||2||0||14||0|
|Republic of Ireland||1985||7||0|
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