KEVIN DOYLE has swapped goals for foals.
The ex-Ireland, Reading and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker now breeds horses back home in Wexford.
Running Slaney River Stud on the family's 50-acre farm, Doyle lives across a field from his parents where he has five horses – including Altior's half-brother Camelot, which he paid a whopping £140,000 for.
After playing 64 times for his country Doyle has also coached Ireland's Under-17s, but has no plans in getting saddled with anything bigger than that in football.
The 37-year-old was famously signed by Reading for just £78,000 from Cork City in 2005 and told SunSport: "I always planned on moving home when I finished.
"It's not my full-time job but it is more than a hobby as it's a bit of work every day and it's been fantastic for me coming home and getting stuck in.
"It gives me a buzz. My dad has bred National Hunt horses for years and it is my day today.
"I have always been interested in it and that is what I turn my time to now.
"I have done some coaching with Ireland's U17s too… but right now, I think I prefer working with horses to footballers!
"The family has done it for years and my dad bred a horse called Hollywell, which was favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015, and he won a good few times there too.
"He didn't win the big one but hopefully there are plenty more to come from us.
"Football is over now and I got what I wanted from it.
"I don't wake up every morning pining to put my boots on and train – 5-a-side once a week is enough to feed that habit.
"I had a pony when I was growing up and for a year or two I was keen on riding him, but then soccer took over – and thankfully so!"
If Doyle's career at the stud takes off as well as it did in football then he will be raising plenty of Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in no time at all.
In just his first season in English football, Doyle scored the goal to send Reading into the Premier League.
They won the 2005-06 Championship season in record-breaking style, picking up 106 points and scoring 99 goals on a shoestring budget under Steve Coppell.
Looking back, Doyle said: "We had a really small squad at Reading and probably had better odds to get relegated than promoted.
"We were lucky. It was unique. It was dreamland for all of us. The play-offs were our aim I suppose, try and nip in there.
"We lost that first game of the season though at home to Plymouth and there was talk about Steve being under pressure as they finished the season before badly and we needed a win quickly.
"I was new to it, so I wasn't in total doom and gloom, I think I was just happy to be there. You could never foretell what would happen."
Doyle finished his career at Colorado Rapids in the MLS.
But it was at Reading and Wolves, who he joined in a record £6.5million Mad Stad sale, where he enjoyed the best times of his career.
Recalling the blueprint for success in Berkshire, Doyle puts it down to having to graft it out and working out of Portakabins at their humble Hogwood Park base.
He added: "We had a really good team behind the scenes. We had a director of football before most other teams in England.
"We had Wally Downes and Kevin Dillon – Dills was the official assistant manager and took the attacking players, Wally the defence. Steve didn't really take any sessions.
We were ahead of our time in how we trained and how the club was run
"But you always knew he was watching you. He was the type of manager that would wander around and keep an eye on everything.
"I think we were ahead of our time in how we trained and how the club was run.
"Video analysis wasn't really in yet but we would watch other teams on VHS tapes that Steve would play us the day before games in one of our Portakabins.
"We had another Portakabin where Jon Fearn, the physio, would treat us – just one bed in there. So I laugh now when players moan about facilities.
"We didn't have the best facilities, but we had enough to work with and made the most of what we had.
"If you have the right people you can make anything work – and we did.
"It worked perfectly. Steve wanted us attacking and would constantly encourage me to run at people, to take them on, keep running, keep going, keep trying to excite.
"He wanted to be excited watching us. Later on in my career I had managers who were all about holding it, keeping it, lay it off… pretty boring stuff.
"Steve was a fantastic player and I think he wanted to see players do what he did.
"It was exciting to play in and I presume it was exciting to watch – it didn't matter who we played, we thought we would win.
"I've never felt that other than those two years. We had a ball."
Now Doyle is looking to bring a bit of that magic stardust to racing.
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