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Footballer swaps the pitch for the ring
Monday 3rd November 2014 @ 11:55 by Mark Phillip

Stalybridge Celtic midfielder Matthew Mainwaring called time on his career last week after seven short years in the beautiful game.

matt mainwaring

The 24 year olds decision to leave the club was greeted by well wishes of support from across the football hierarchy. The former Celtic man, who boasts a number of credible clubs including Stockport County and Hull City, was inundated with messages of thanks from players and supporters alike.

Those who took to twitter to offer their views included his most recent employer, Keith Brigg’s, who stated “Good luck @Matty_Main in your new venture. Big miss on and off the field. Footballs loss is boxings gain.”

Briggs’ comments regarding the new venture allude to the 24 year olds desire to pursue a career in the ring; a prospect seemingly relished by the promising talent. He told Reporter Sport “I’ve kicked a football since I could walk and been a pro for seven years.

“It’s so difficult to make it professionally in any sport these days, especially football, so when I did, I was aware of the privileged position I was in.”

Having first kicked a ball at a tender age, the budding star made his way to Manchester United, then further afield to Preston North End, before finally settling in at Stockport County. Mainwaring holds fond memories of his spell at Edgeley Park and told us “My most memorable period has to be my debut season as a pro. I was fast tracked into the first team at 18 years old and playing regularly in league one under Jim Gannon at Stockport County.

“I think I made 22 appearances, was awarded young player of the year and got a call up to republic of Ireland U19’s”

The brightest time in the youngster’s career was closely followed by his darkest, when a leg break in pre-season fixture against Grimsby shattered his leg and fractured his dreams. He told us “I suffered a horrific double leg break and literally had to learn to walk again!

“This has taught me not to be afraid of any challenge and made me realise that there’s nothing that can’t be overcome with graft and determination.”

Speaking with honesty and self-assurance, it appeared as if the player’s misfortune had been utilised in a positive manner. Having overcome a period of adversity, the boxing hopeful knows how to get back up when you’ve been knocked down. He added “Both football and boxing require high levels of fitness, but with football you can have a day off and the team can still win.

“In boxing it’s different. If you cut corners in training, you will be exposed on fight night as you only have yourself to rely on.

“The training I’m undertaking for boxing is very different to football, but I have to be honest, I feel completely at home in the ring and have never felt as alive!”

Mainwaring’s hard hitting, coupled with his enthusiasm in the ring, certainly caught the eye of a boxing great. That’s because current European Champion, Matthew Hatton, decided to aid Mainwaring in his bid to hit the big time. Speaking to Reporter Sport, the 33 year old welterweight, nicknamed ‘Magic’, detailed his reasons behind the support. He said “I was introduced to Matty via a mutual friend who told me a bit about him regarding his football background.

“I do personal training sessions at Metrofitness in Stockport so invited him to call me and arrange a session.”

And without due hesitation, the youngster accepted, which sparked the beginning of a fruitful relationship. Matthew added “When he came down I was shocked that he had never boxed before and it was clear that he was a natural.

“Considering Matty has never boxed before he has a very good understanding of the game and can tell he has studied the sport in depth being a big boxing fan.”

Hattons verdict appears to be accurate, as Boxing governs Mainwaring’s thoughts. The youngster recalled memorable episodes in the sport that planted seeds of interest. He said “My favourite fighters, or the ones that dominate the wall space in my room are Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather.

“My Uncle showed me videos of Tommy Hearns too who I love to watch and continue to study!”

Despite a premature end to a blossoming career there will be no time spared for eulogising. One door closed, but another has opened, which signals the start of something new for the success starved Salfordian. “I’m hungry for success and buzzing with confidence and I’m really looking forward to the challenges head. The hard work starts now!”