Monday, 9 February 2009
Paul McGrath (Nwobilo) is a former football defender, a long-time member of the Republic of Ireland national team. He was one of the first Irish celebrities of mixed-race background.
McGrath is the son of an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. McGrath's father disappeared soon after his conception. His mother, Betty McGrath, had given Paul up for adoption when he was four weeks old. Terrified that her father would find out she had become pregnant in an interracial relationship, McGrath's mother travelled in secret to London to have her child, who was considered illegitimate.
McGrath became a full time professional with Football League of Ireland club St Patrick's Athletic in 1981. He made his debut in a League Cup clash with Shamrock Rovers in August at Richmond Park.
McGrath moved to Manchester United in 1982. His only honour there was the 1985 FA Cup, where United defeated Everton 1–0. McGrath was named Man of the Match in the game. He signed for Aston Villa F.C in 1989.
McGrath left Aston Villa in 1996, considered one of the greatest players in the side's history and is nicknamed "God" by their fans, who also remember his services by singing a terrace chant on matchdays to the tune of "Kumbayah". He retired from the game in 1998, after very brief spells with Derby County and Sheffield United.
McGrath won his first Republic of Ireland cap against Italy in 1985, last playing 12 years later, against Wales. During that time, he was often regarded as the single most influential player Ireland had in the national team's glory days. He was capped 83 times, scoring 8 goals.