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Paul Munster the Real Deal

Playing for London City in the Canadian Professional Soccer League is probably the best thing that ever happened to Paul Munster.

Just three years ago he was a rising soccer star with Cliftonville, a club in Northern Ireland's premier league, before an injury nearly ended his career. While on a six-week sport and school exchange that brought him to coach in Kitchener Ontario, Munster tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a pick-up game.

"All I remember was twisting my leg and then feeling intense pain, it felt like I had broken my leg," said Munster.

When he returned home to his native Ireland, his club had got wind of the news and they subsequently released him.

"They basically told me that they didn't want to deal with me," said Munster. "I lost my opportunity and I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to play again."

Doctors told him that his chances of returning to competitive soccer were slim and that he would require extensive surgery to repair his knee. Then the bad news continued to get worse when he learned that it would take five years to get the proper surgery under public health care. With his career on the line, Munster decided to go private and paid out of his own pocket. He spent the next eight months of his life in intensive rehab and then began to train everyday on his own for the next two years.

But eventually the pressure of being a spectator in a country obsessed with football was becoming too much to bare. "In Ireland soccer is everywhere, so the idea of not playing just drove me nuts," said Munster.

Having grown up in a family with deep soccer roots didn't make it any easier. His grandfather, dad and brother had all played professional soccer and he desperately wanted to follow in their footsteps, so he was determined to rediscover the game no matter how long it took.

When an opportunity came up to return to his coaching job in the Great White North, he didn't hesitate to accept it. After all, he wanted to remain in soccer in some capacity in the hope of kick-starting his career.

"I had been playing since I was a youngster and I knew that I had the talent to go somewhere," said Munster. "So I knew with a fresh start and hard work I could make a comeback."

Upon his arrival his life took a dramatic turn for the better. As a coach with the Doon Soccer Park Group, he hooked up with former pro player Eddie Edgar. Edgar had a contact with London City and this led to an invitation to join London's reserve squad. Three games and 12 goals later, team owner Harry Gauss promoted Munster to their first team.

Right away he began to score and as his leg got stronger, so did his following of fans. He became known as the "Real Deal", a nickname given to him by team owner Gauss and he eventually had his own booth set-up to sign autographs.

"The fans were terrific, people actually lined up just to get a chance to meet me," said Munster.

By the end of the season he had become a household name and had all the makings of a superstar. He not only captured the CPSL scoring title with 25 goals, but had outpaced the nearest competitor by 10 strikes. By all accounts his game was certainly back with a vengeance.

With his stellar play he caught the eyes of a few scouts and has since accepted an offer to tryout for Slavia Prague, a division one club in the Czech Republic. Word is that they are eager for another scorer and that's exactly what Munster is looking for. All his efforts to date have now rejuvenated a career that was in shambles not long ago.

"I had no idea that my career would turn around so quickly," said Munster. "I'll never forget what Harry Gauss and the CPSL did for me."

With the odds stacked against him from the beginning, I guess it must have been the luck of the Irish that it all worked out.


Paul Munster
George Azcurra
Lucio Ianiero
Phil Ionadi
Abraham Osman
Mladen Dikic
Eddy Berdusco

In addition to Toronto Croatia, which other club has won the CPSL championship twice?
St. Catharines Roma Wolves
Ottawa Wizards
Toronto Olympians
North York Astros

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