At 16, Paul Ferris from Lisburn had the football world at his feet when he became Newcastle United’s youngest-ever first-teamer. Dubbed ‘the new George Best’, the dream came crashing down for Paul when a freak training accident knocked him out of the game forever. He joined Dave Fanning on The Ryan Tubridy Show to talk about the twists and turns of his life since then and about his new book based on his experiences, The Boy on the Shed.
“The easiest book that I could have written to get published would be one about football but actually I think the vast majority of the book that you’ve got in your hand is about growing up in Ireland during the troubles and about your house being firebombed and about family members having terrible things happen to them because I’ve said several times, very bad things happened to very good people during that period.”
Speaking of his time playing for Newcastle, Paul said,
“I travelled to Newcastle in November when I was in the second year of my O levels and actually in the May I played in the first team and then I came home and my friends from school did their O Levels in the June so it gives you an idea of how really young you were but they’re looking at me thinking, God, he’s a footballer now, he’s made it, and I’m thinking well actually I’m crying myself to sleep every night, and eating chocolate bars, listening to Van Morrison and trying to keep myself alive!”
After his injury, Paul continued his involvement with the club by qualifying as a physiotherapist, working with them until 2006 when he left to pursue a career as a barrister. An offer of working with Alan Shearer’s management team tempted him away from the bar and these days, he is the Chief Executive of Speedflex gym equipment, although the past year has been dedicated to battling prostate cancer.
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