Wednesday 23 October 2019

'I'll let Ireland retire me' - Paul McShane still looking for a new club

Paul McShane. Photo: PA
Paul McShane. Photo: PA

Aidan Fitzmaurice

He’s been without a club since the summer and hasn’t been capped in three years.

But Paul McShane (33) says he’s not ready to hang up his boots yet as he’s keen to carry on at club level. And he insists he will never volunteer to walk away from the international team.

“I always said that I’d never retire from Ireland, I’d let Ireland retire me, I would always be available if called upon,” McShane told The Herald.

“At the minute, it’s a long way off as I need to get back playing games, but football can change very quickly. At 33, I am well into the latter years, but if I get back playing, who knows? If you are in good shape and feeling fit, anything can happen.”

Some Ireland internationals from McShane’s era had a busy summer as Wes Hoolahan (37), Stephen Ward (34) and Glenn Whelan (35) all found new clubs, though John O’Shea, Darren O’Dea, David Forde and David Meyler retired.

McShane is one of a small batch who remain without a club (Darron Gibson and Marc Wilson), as he was released by Reading at the end of last season, an injury-scarred one for the Wicklow native, and to date he remains unemployed, though with a desire to carry on his playing career.

He’s had offers but nothing tempting or secure enough and now, weeks into the club season in England, he’s grown frustrated.

“Being without a club for a couple of months is a taste of what retirement will be like so I want to keep that at bay for as long as I can,” he says. 

“I started my own routine with a fitness trainer on the same day that clubs would be going back for pre-season to try and stay in shape.”

A return of just five appearances for Reading last season, due to injury, has possibly made some managers wary, but McShane says he’s fit and ready to deliver.

“You are a long time retired, I am lucky enough to play football for a living and I want to keep that going for as long as I can. There will be a stage when the body can’t take it any more and then I will call it a day, but for now I plan to play on,” he says.

“I had a few offers from League One, a few from abroad, but I wanted to hold out and get something that suited me.

“At this stage, I might have to dive in and go for something. It’s tough to keep training on your own, it’s not easy to see games being played at 3.00pm on a Saturday and you’re not involved.

“I am only 33 and I definitely want to play again. I’d like to get something sorted in the next couple of weeks, even though I have been saying that since July.

“I would like to play in the MLS, but it’s not a great time as they are coming to the end of their season. If an offer was there for next season, I’d look at it. I had offers from Israel, Denmark and Cyprus but nothing really appealed that much.

“I am a free agent so I can sign for anyone, though I am getting a bit fed up with it. I wanted to get a Championship club, and there were bits of interest, but there’s a difference between someone being interested in you and offering you a contract.”

McShane made his Ireland debut in 2006 and won 33 caps, though his loyalty was not always rewarded with minutes on the pitch.

After appearing as sub in the World Cup play-off against France in 2009, he would never be capped in a competitive game again.

“I never said no to a call-up, I just wanted to play for my country as much as I could so I was always available. I can hold my head up high and say I never turned down my country and I am happy with that,” he says. “I would have liked more caps but I also really enjoyed playing for my country. Being captain for the win over Italy (2011) was a career high, but I still want to do things in the game and accomplish more.”

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