Philip Mulryne, a former Manchester United midfielder has on Saturday been ordained as a deacon in the Catholic Church, by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.
The 38-year-old, from west Belfast is a member of the Dominican Order and is expected to be ordained as a priest next year.
Family and friends were in attendance at Saturday’s event in Dublin’s Saint Saviour’s church.
Mulryne earned up to £500,000 during his playing career, even dating glamorous model Nicola Chapman, who appeared on Real Footballer’s Wives 2005.
While many ex-players go into coaching or television punditry, Mulryne has taken an unusual post-football career step, by ditching his life of glamour for something of a more spiritual significance.
He had previously spent two years studying philosophy in Italy, before undertaking a four-year theology degree in Belfast.
The Northern Irishman, earned 27 caps for his country in a career that included spells with Norwich and Cardiff City and Leyton Orient.
Twenty years ago, Mulryne made his debut for Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson after progressing through the youth team.
He was unable to forge a lengthy career with the Red Devils and moved to Norwich City in 1999, but his time at Carrow Road was plagued by injuries.
The former team-mate of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane, only made one solitary Premier League appearance on the last day of the season against Barnsley in the 1997/98 campaign.
Last month, Mulryne was declared bankrupt at Belfast’s High Court. It is believed he invested heavily in a fund that exploited a legal loophole giving tax benefits to those putting their money into the film industry.