Stephen McPhail happy to turn back the clock
Former Leeds and Cardiff midfielder returns to Dublin to line out for his boyhood heroes – Shamrock Rovers
Stephen McPhail celebrates a victory over Watford with Sheffield Wednesday team-mate Damian Martinez last December. The former Republic of Ireland midfielder has now signed for Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Robin Parker/Getty Images
Though last night’s Leinster Senior Cup clash with Drogheda United at Tallaght Stadium was the first time he’s seen them play in the flesh since he was a child, Stephen McPhail is looking forward to his future having signed for Shamrock Rovers.
The 34-year-old midfielder has ended a long career in England to return to his native Dublin to rejoin his wife and two young children who came back last summer.
Though he had the option to extend his short-term deal with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, he found it difficult to be absent from his family and decided instead last month to head for home.
And having travelled the country with the team in the early 1990s with his grandfather, who was on then manager Ray Treacy’s backroom staff, there was only one club McPhail was likely to join.
“It’s 19 years or so since I was living here and it was always the plan to come back, especially with the kids wanting to settle in school,” he said
“I supported (Rovers) as a kid as my granddad Paddy Doran had a lot to do with the club. I saw them a lot at the RDS when they played there. I was there for every home game for seasons so I know what to expect, it’s a big club.”
The 10-times capped McPhail, who played in a Champions League semi-final at Leeds and captained Cardiff to an FA Cup Final at Wembley, is simply glad to be still playing into his mid-30s.
Three years ago he was told he would have to quit after being diagnosed as having stage one malt lymphoma, a relatively rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma which left him fatigued and with joint pains.
However a treatment that works for him was sourced through a specialist in Las Vegas and, with regular monitoring, has him feeling as fit as ever since. He has the treatment twice annually which necessitates a day in hospital and a few days recovery.
“I train within three days of the treatment. That’s how I keep on top of it.”
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