McKenna explains why it is time for him to quit

Ex-PNE star Paul McKenna with Bamber Bridge manager Neil Crowe
Ex-PNE star Paul McKenna with Bamber Bridge manager Neil Crowe

Brig midfielder and former PNE star Paul McKenna has revealed why he has decided to hang up his boots – he fancies a career in management.

McKenna, 38, made his professional debut for Preston in 1997 and made more than 450 appearances before joining Nottingham Forest in 2009.

The midfielder, from Eccleston, moved on to Hull City and enjoyed a loan spell at Fleetwood Town before he was released by Hull in 2013.

McKenna joined Brig last season and helped them reach the NPL First Division North play-off final but sadly they missed out on promotion after losing 2-0 to Darlington 1883.

Now after a season-and-a-half playing for the non-league side, the former PNE captain says playing week in week out is getting too hard.

But he also admitted he is considering a career in management.

He said: “It is just getting hard work. I’m 38 now and it is becoming harder and harder to play and I have family commitments too.

“I’ve got three children and I’m missing out on quite a lot over the last couple of weeks.

“I’m not enjoying my football and another reason for stopping is that I have got my UEFA B Licence and I am working towards getting my UEFA A License. I am thinking of trying my hand at that.”

McKenna revealed the highlights of his career were his two trips to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff with PNE.

He scored the winning penalty in North End’s 2000-01 Division One play-off semi-final second leg penalty shoot-out against Birmingham City to clinch a place in the play-off final against Bolton.

The midfielder also started PNE’s 2005 Championship play-off final game against West Ham, but despite North End losing both finals, McKenna says it was great to play in front of more than 70,000 people at the arena.

He said: “I was lucky enough to have had a good career. I played in two play-off finals in front of around 75,000 people which were great occasions.

“Games like that don’t happen every day.

“I enjoyed my time at North End and I was made club captain which was fantastic.

“I had a long time at North End, it was a great time and I made some great friends and it was a big wrench to leave.

“I just wanted to experience something else before the end of my career. I have no regrets, I enjoyed myself during my career.”

McKenna trained with Bury after he left Hull City in 2013 but it was Bamber Bridge assistant boss Neil Reynolds who coaxed McKenna back into the game in September 2014. He says he will still be affiliated with the club.

“I had no intention of starting playing again, but I am good friends with Neil Reynolds and he asked me if I could go down to the club and help,” McKenna said:

“It is a club I want to stay affiliated with. The lads at Bamber Bridge are fantastic. My decision to leave is not about the club.

“It is just a bridge too far to tackle games week in, week out, and the pitches in the division are hard work.

“I wasn’t enjoying my football as much as I used to, and I was missing my kids.

“Non-league football is not just a game on a Saturday it is a big commitment because of training too. I want to start watching my own kids play football.

I work also and something had to give. I offered to play for another week or so but the manager Neil Crowe and Neil Reynolds knew that my mind was made up, and so they told me to have a good Christmas and that they would sort it out. It is nice to have some time off over the festive period.”

Brig’s game against Burscough at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium was called off yesterday due to a waterlogged pitch.

Due to the horrendous weather conditions Brig only played twice in December and lost on both occasions and now Crowe’s men’s next game will be in 2016 at Ossett Albion on January 2

Brig boss Crowe said: “It has been a privilege having Paul at Bamber Bridge, he has done really well for us and raised the professionalism at the club.

“Ossett are another side going well. The team spirit is stronger than ever and I’m confident we can do well in 2016.”