imageLONDON: A former Manchester United midfielder is contemplating a new career after being ordained as a deacon in the Catholic Church.

Philip Mulryne won 27 caps for Northern Ireland in a career that included spells with Norwich City and Leyton Orient.

He was ordained by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, on Saturday.

The 38-year-old is a member of the Dominican Order and could, the Belfast Telegraph reported, become a priest next year.

Last month, the Daily Mail said Mulryne, who earned up to £500,000 ($611,658) during the height of his football career with Norwich and dated model Nicola Chapman, who appeared on the television programme Real Footballers' Wives 2005, had been declared insolvent at Belfast's High Court.

While Mulryne may be embarking on an unusual vocation for a former footballer, some players have quit the game for religious reasons during their careers.

For example, former Sheffield Wednesday winger Jeremy Helan, 24, recently left the second-tier English club to devote more time to Islam.

Perhaps the most spectacular example in English football of a player giving up the game for his beliefs remains that of Peter Knowles, who walked away from the sport aged 23 in 1969.

One of the outstanding footballers of his generation and tipped to be a member of England's 1970 World Cup squad, Knowles left Wolverhampton Wanderers, then a top-flight side, in 1969 after becoming a Jehovah's Witness as he believed a career in football to be incompatible with his faith.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016