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Meet the Northern Irish aces who balanced their playing careers with jobs at a hardware store and funeral home

LAUREN WADE and Kirsty McGuiness are among a number of Women’s Euros stars who have balanced their roles on the field with some interesting off-field jobs.

In Wade’s case, it was working for her family’s funeral home, while McGuiness juggled shifts at B&Q with playing for club and country.

Lauren Wade says the'full-time player environment' is a new experience for some members of the Northern Ireland squad

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Lauren Wade says the ‘full-time player environment’ is a new experience for some members of the Northern Ireland squadCredit: PA

Lauren Wade (midfielder – Northern Ireland)

Aside from being on the field for Kenny Shiels’ Northern Ireland team, Wade has previously worked as a funeral director.

The 28-year-old midfielder, who was born in Coleraine in Londonderry, had balanced working for her family-run business with her club career for Belfast-based Women’s Premier League side Glentoran.

Overseeing memorial services for the late runs in the family of the player who began her senior club career with Coleraine.

The grandfather of Glentoran ace Hugh ran the 187-year-old company Hugh Wade and Son.

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Last year, Wade was fitted for a uniform, with the player showing her willingness to “be involved in all parts of the business”.

The company is currently run by the Northern Irish star’s mother Charlene and her sister Alison.

Last June, Wade, whose side play Norway on July 7, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I’ve always worked a bit in the business so I know a lot about what’s at stake

“I think you have to have a certain personality to be a funeral director.

“You really have to be a natural and I think I have the personality and empathy to help people in very difficult circumstances.”

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Wade, who scored in the 4-1 friendly defeat by Belgium last time out, helped Northern Ireland make history as the side clinched their first ever European Women’s Championship berth.

The final whistle of the 2-0 play-off triumph in the second leg against Ukraine – following a 2-1 win in the first leg – was followed by tearful celebrations on the Seaview pitch

And it later led to many of the team’s part-time aces entering a full-time training program that began in January of that year.

This week, Wade, who has 21 seniors for the team, told reporters, “The full-time environment is something a lot of us have never experienced.

“We thought it was just the norm to go to work, train, sleep and rehearse.

“We really saw the differences and benefits that full-time education had.”

Kirsty McGuinness has worked full-time at B&Q in addition to her role in Northern Ireland

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Kirsty McGuinness has worked full-time at B&Q in addition to her role in Northern IrelandCredit: Pacemaker

Kirsty McGuinness (forward – Sion Ladies and Northern Ireland)

Kirsty, 27, and her younger sister Caitlin, 19, will make history as the first sisters to represent Northern Ireland at a Women’s Euro.

The duo, who were added to Kenny Shiels’ squad of 23 this week, become the first siblings in a Northern Ireland squad to attend a European Championship since Jonny and Corry Evans.

And the pair also became the first sisters to score for their side in a 5-1 qualifying win over Faroe Islands of Ireland in the same game in December 2020.

McGuinness, who studied psychology, history and sociology at Belfast Metropolitan College, scored three goals in EURO qualifier defeats by Faroe Islands and Belarus.

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The forward began her senior club career aged 14 in 2008 when she was signed by Linfield Ladies.

And McGuinness, who now plies her trade with Sion Swifts, made her senior debut for Northern Ireland aged 15 in 2010 when the side defeated Estonia 3-0

Like a number of her green-and-white peers, McGuiness got her a day job in retail around her successful football career.

The striker, who has scored 10 goals in 35 senior international games, worked the morning shift at B&Q whilst playing in the Northern Ireland Premier League and on the international stage.

McGuinness could be set for a Euro debut alongside her younger sister Caitlin

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McGuinness could be set for a Euro debut alongside her younger sister CaitlinCredit: Pacemaker

McGuinness told reporters: “I was fortunate to work in the mornings.

“They knew I played football and my boss was very understanding.

“Most of the players worked full-time during the day and went to training in the evenings.

“Now we’ll be here in the morning. It’s great that we’re here and that this is our full-time job until the European Championships.”

If you put it in context, we had amateur players who would work at Lidl and in hospitals as nurses

Kenny Shiels

Northern Ireland’s achievement of Euro qualification is made even more remarkable by the fact that their squad includes players who work in a variety of professions, including nursing.

And Shiels’ aces also overcame a series of injuries to secure their spot with a contest opener against Norway scheduled for July 7 before clashes with Austria and England.

Following their qualification last April, the head coach said: “If you put it in context we had amateur players who would work at Lidl and in hospitals as nurses.

Kenny Shiels' team's journey to Euro qualifying has been aided by a number of players working in non-football jobs

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Kenny Shiels’ team’s journey to Euro qualifying has been aided by a number of players working in non-football jobsPhoto credit: Sportsfile

“The bulk of our squad is made up of it and I have to say if you look at it from that perspective it makes the performance ridiculous.

“I’m more than surprised at the magnitude we’ve qualified for.

“Two years ago we were in the very bottom ranks of the UEFA coefficient and now we’ve risen enormously. We are there with the big guns.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5661594/kirsty-mcguinness-wade-northern-ireland/ Meet the Northern Irish aces who balanced their playing careers with jobs at a hardware store and funeral home

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