Why I made retirement u-turn to sign for Cliftonville, reveals Brush
Richard Brush has opened up about why he's back in the game just months after announcing his retirement.
The ex-Ballinamallard United goalkeeper announced he was quitting football altogether after the Fermanagh club was relegated from the Danske Bank Premiership in April, but shocked Mallards fans when he signed for Cliftonville on Thursday.
Birmingham-born Brush came under fire from Ferney Park faithful who thought he'd been dishonest, but he's set the record straight and shown that's far from the truth, explaining a job change was the reason he retired - and returned.
"I had switched jobs, moving from one in a care home to one with young people which demanded more complicated shift patterns," he said.
"It was a hard decision, but it was one of the provisos I had, to quit football to become a social worker. And to be honest it was understandable, it's a demanding career.
"Since then, and I suppose after a couple months in the role, my manager said he was happy to be flexible. It had been loosely mentioned that Cliftonville were interested, and he said 'well, we can look at that', which opened the door for me again.
"Being a footballer is an opportunity to be a strong role model for young people, so it's nice to still have the chance to be one."
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Cliftonville boss Barry Gray had designs on Brush since he declared he was stepping away from the game, keen to work on persuading the goalkeeper toward a change of heart.
Yet while any return to the sport hinged on a change in professional circumstances, it was also a personal matter for Brush, who wanted to be respectful to Ballinamallard and manager Harry McConkey.
"I spoke with Harry when it looked as if work were going to allow me to play again," the ex-Sligo Rovers ace said.
"He is a football man, and he understood the decision, but for me it wasn't just football, it was really quite personal. I loved playing for the Mallards, it is a great club with good people. So it meant a lot that he understood.
"I understand how the fans might feel and say I took the easy way out of leaving the club. But anyone who has spent any time with me will know that isn't me."
Brush, who still lives in Sligo and now will have a five-hour round trip for training and home games, admits he became used to life as a 'former' player.
He also revealed walking into the Solitude dressing room to change into a playing jersey at the same time as meeting his new team-mates was a bizarre experience.
Just hours after signing his two-year deal, Brush was thrown straight into a friendly - against Ballinamallard.
Settling in well, however, he's now eager to get Cliftonville's league campaign underway.
"I had completely adjusted to being retired," he smiled.
"I had got into a completely different routine and it feels quite surreal to be going back now.
"What was particularly strange was going to Belfast to sign the contract at 4.30 in the afternoon, then playing at 7.45. You would normally get a training session to meet the lads first, rather than a game - and against your old club.
"I only really know Ryan Curran. But they seem like a really great group of boys and I'm looking forward to trying to help them win trophies."