Former professional footballer Stephen McPhee has seen the best and worst that life has got to offer.

During a 10-year career with Coventry City; St Mirren; Port Vale; Hull City; Blackpool; and Portuguese side Beira-Mar he played against some of the biggest names in the game, in the biggest stadiums in the world.

But when a knee injury curtailed his career at the age of 29 he turned to alcohol and twice tried to commit suicide.

Thankfully those dark days are behind him and the 42-year-old has just embarked on a new job as head of new business at Manchester-based sustainable IT equipment supplier Ayoo Services.

It’s a far cry from playing in front of 60,000 fans at Celtic Park and against Portuguese giants Benfica but McPhee has no regrets.

“People ask me if I’d change anything,” he said. “I reply ‘no’ because if I did, I wouldn’t be where I am now with my beautiful fiancée, two young sons and a new challenge, in a new industry, in a new job.”

McPhee has been throwing himself into his new career in tech with the same enthusiasm he did as a young footballer.

It’s the reason he’s sitting in the front row of an early morning tech event in Rochdale to mark the 25th anniversary of IT managed support company MysonPages.

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“I don’t come from a tech background so I’m putting myself out there in situations where people are asking me questions,” he admitted. “It would be easy to shy away and sit in the corner but if I don’t know the answer I find out.”

McPhee’s journey to where he is now is remarkable.

Born in Glasgow he and his older brother Gary travelled the world as because of their Dad’s job as an engineer.

It was while they were in Holland that McPhee’s football talent was spotted at the age of 14 by Vitesse Arnhem.

Originally signed as a midfielder he showed his prowess in front of goal and signed four years later as a striker for Premier League side Coventry City.

The side were managed by Gordon Strachan and it was rumoured that Coventry had been trying to sign the Brazilian star Ronaldino but settled for the young and unproven McPhee instead.

Stephen McPhee in his playing career

Stephen McPhee in his playing career

Although he never made his Premier League debut at Coventry he played and trained with the first team, alongside legends like Gary McAllister; Mustapha Hadji, Robbie Keane and Craig Bellamy.

In 2001 he went north of the border to Scotland and played seven games for St Mirren, the highlight game being against Celtic, who clinched the Premier League title in front of more than 60,000 fans at Parkhead.

Describing his playing style, McPhee said: “I used to like to get in the heads of defenders. I was good in the air and I was really fast.”

The most prolific period of his career came at Port Vale, where he scored 39 goals in 135 games.

Leeds United tried to sign him but Port Vale turned down their offer of £100,000 so McPhee signed for Portuguese top tier  side Beira-Mar on a Bosman transfer.

“They used to train twice a day and it was the closest I’d come to having a proper job,” he joked.

Mainly operating as winger, he scored six goals in 34 matches but it wasn’t enough to stop his side being relegated so he signed for Hull City in 2005 for a reported £400k.

However tragedy struck when he suffered a knee injury in just his fourth game, which overshadowed the remainder of his career.

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He moved to Blackpool in 2008 and was earning £2,500 a week plus bonuses but again his career was restricted by a persistent knee injury.

McPhee eventually retired aged 29 in 2010, a week after watching his Blackpool team-mates win promotion to the Premier League, which is when his problems really began.

“As a footballer you’re built to be mentally strong and my biggest problem was I thought I should have the answers and I was too scared to ask for help,” he admitted.

“I should have opened up because by not asking for help and talking all I was doing was digging a hole. In the end I attempted to take my own life.

“I was drinking at least every other day. I found it a release. I was out in town as much as possible. You’re so-called friends are there but that’s because you’re buying the drinks.”

He invested most of the insurance pay-off he got after retiring in property and a franchise in Minuteman Press in Cheadle, which he ran for 11 years.

Earlier this year he took the plunge and joined Trafford Park-based Ayoo Services, which specialises in offering refurbished IT equipment, including providing 50,000+ laptops.

McPhee said he’s loving the challenge of working in tech and loving life.

“Rather than thinking new when looking for a new laptop or desktop, why not think remanufactured or refurbished?” he said. “It’s good for the environment.”

McPhee, who is a qualified coach, is slowly rekindling his love of football.

“I’d seen the bad side of football and it wasn’t something I was going to push my two boys into it,” he said. “I’ve just started taking them to a few games but I’m just happy doing what I’m doing.”