Niall returns to the Stadium of Light
Released: Tuesday 10th July 2012 at 16:13
A former international and Sunderland footballer has kick-started his career in the “real world” after proving his doubters wrong.
Niall McArdle who represented the Republic of Ireland from under 16 to under 19 level while playing for Sunderland’s Youth and Reserve sides, will today (Tuesday, July 10) return to the Stadium of Light to collect his degree in BSc Sport and Exercise Science.
The young Irishman moved to the city from Malahide, County Dublin, aged 16, after Mick McCarthy persuaded him to choose the Mackems instead of the Scottish Champions Celtic after a personal phone call.
Niall was part of the team which spawned Sunderland regular Jack Colback and Leicester City striker Martyn Waghorn, the team also made it into the FA Youth Cup Semi-final before being beaten a Manchester City side including England international Daniel Sturridge. Niall still counts £17 million Liverpool and England midfielder Jordan Henderson as one of his closest friends after being part of the same team.
However after being released Niall did not rest on his laurels and motivated himself to continue with his studies in an attempt to prove those people wrong who told him he would have nothing if he failed to make it as a footballer.
Niall said: “I always had this label back home as a footballer, and now I’m not, people can talk about you negatively – but I’d love them to say ‘oh you’re that footballer who has now graduated with a First’.
“When I left Ireland people told me I was totally mad, that it was not going to work and that I’d be back home in three years with no education to fall back on. This helped motivate me because I didn’t want to go home workless or my time to be seen as a waste. I’m now going back home for the summer-six years later as a graduate.”
Niall realised early on that not everyone at the academy would make it as a professional footballer and after completing his compulsory education he decided to further his education. He voluntarily enrolled himself on an exercise health and fitness foundation degree at the City of Sunderland College while in his final year at the football club before completing his degree at the University.
He added: “I didn’t want to be bored or spend my money stupidly so I decided to further my education, as the chances of me making it as a professional were quite slim despite making good continuous development. I knew my progression could stop two years down the line and I’d have something to fall back on.”
After going to a jobs fair, Niall has passed numerous tests and interviews and will now begin his new career at UK company Management Development Services, a leading training provider in the fresh food and produce industry. He will be part of their graduate scheme that will include looking at the nutritional values of their foods. This will include separate two month placements across the UK.
However, after playing for Whitley Bay, South Shields and Sunderland RCA, Niall doesn’t play at all now, instead he concentrates on middle distance running.