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Sunday 19 November 2017

Now Paul tackles the music business with debut album

Irish football legend Paul McGrath signs autographs at the unveiling of an art installation at Inchicore Sports Centre, Dublin, yesterday
Irish football legend Paul McGrath signs autographs at the unveiling of an art installation at Inchicore Sports Centre, Dublin, yesterday
Paul McGrath in his prime for the Irish football team
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

SOCCER legend Paul McGrath says he can well relate to his favourite track on his debut album as he enjoys his new-found sobriety.

Kris Kristofferson's 'Sunday Mornin' Coming Down' -- describing the singer-turned actor's own lonely descent into alcoholism -- reflects the former footballer's own well-publicised battle with the bottle.

"For some reason, that's the one I've always liked," he told the Irish Independent last night as he unveiled an art installation on behalf of the Inchicore Community Art and Sport Project. The installation is a collage of images taken from more than 30 local community art and sport workshops in conjuction with local artist Mirjam Keune.

The 11-track album, produced by Dublin musicians and producers Hugh Drumm and Brian O'Flaherty, includes some of the 51-year-old former Irish international's favourite songs.

The collection of cover tunes, including Elvis Costello's 'Good Year For The Roses', Christy Moore's 'The Contender' and the title track 'Handle with Care' by the Travelling Wilburys, will be released on September 23.

A percentage of the proceeds will be going to his two designated charities the Acquired Brain Injury Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Ireland.

The retired Manchester United and Aston Villa defender is widely regarded as one of the best footballers to have come out of Ireland. He's also the only professional footballer who has turned his sights to music, even though his only experience singing outside the shower was along with the Irish squad back in the days of Big Jack.

And he laughed off any notions of being the next contestant on 'The X-Factor' or seriously embarking on a musical career.

"It's something new. It's something novel but it's just songs that I liked when I was a young man so I just put a few of them out there to see how it worked," he said.

"It's just a one-off as far as I'm concerned, but if it makes a few shillings for the charities then we may do more."Drumm, who is also one of the musicians on the album who has worked with the likes of Def Leppard and Aslan, said he don't know what to think when Paul approached him.

"I was sceptical when he said he could sing but when he's in front of a microphone there's a vulnerability and he's convincing as someone who has had quite a life," he said.

And there was no diva-like behaviour when they got down to recording the tracks over the past eight months, he added.

"The only direction I had to give him was 'don't try to be like Johnny Cash or Christy Moore'. All I had to do was press record," he added.


The album, which will be available in supermarkets and on digital download, is part of a new leaf that Paul has turned over since he gave up drinking after he stole a neighbour's car during a period in which he admitted to "drinking very heavily".

"It's great. It's nice to be well and it's nice just to be on the upbeat instead of the downbeat."

While he isn't attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he revealed that he has a supportive group of friends that are always looking out for him.

"I have a circle of friends who are keeping me well and I stay away from people who maybe I should have stayed away from a long time ago that weren't good for me," he said.

Irish Independent

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