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irish legend Paul O'Connell admits he had an unhealthy relationship success and failure in his rugby career

'I developed a healthier relationship with winning and losing and that wasn't the case at the start of my career'

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Paul O’Connell promoting new cookbook Home.

Paul O’Connell promoting new cookbook Home.

Paul O’Connell promoting new cookbook Home.

Former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell admits he laments the near misses from his rugby career rather than toasting the moments of glory he was a part of with Ireland and Munster.

While he confesses to feeling a sense of relief when a career that included three Six Nations wins with Ireland, a trio of Lions tours and two European cup wins with his beloved Munster came to an end, there have also been moments of mourning over his glorious past that can never be relived.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World as he promoted a new cook book that will raise money for the Barnardo's charity, he told us that his great moments are overshadowed by the occasions when he failed to claim a prize that was so close.

"I would guess that a lot of sports people would admit they don't enjoy the wins enough and they remember the losses and I'm no different," said O'Connell, who retired from the game in 2016.

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Paul O’Connell in his iconic Irish jersey.

Paul O’Connell in his iconic Irish jersey.

Paul O’Connell in his iconic Irish jersey.

"Maybe that's what makes them good players. Johnny Sexton is like that. It doesn't matter how much that guy wins or how much he gets paid, he will be back three days after a big success demanding more and urging people to set their standards high. Winning doesn't gratify him or take the edge of his desire. That's why he's a great champion.

"In many ways, I wish I had a better perspective from a lot of things in the game from an early age. By the end of my career, I had better perspective and was probably a better person to be around in the team because I had learned what was important. I developed a healthier relationship with winning and losing and that wasn't the case at the start of my career.

"Being your best is the target and once you make peace with that, you enjoy everything more. You enjoy the nights out more, the training is not so painful and you enjoy the wins more. You can also put some perspective on the losses. I wish I had got there earlier, but I was there by the end."

O'Connell went on to confirm his home does not have any reflections of his rugby career, with shirts, medals and memories all locked away out of sight.

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Ireland great Paul O’Connell is a veteran of three Lions tours (Handout photo provided by Vodafone/PA)

Ireland great Paul O’Connell is a veteran of three Lions tours (Handout photo provided by Vodafone/PA)

Ireland great Paul O’Connell is a veteran of three Lions tours (Handout photo provided by Vodafone/PA)

"I don't have memorabilia on my walls," he confirmed. "It would make me uncomfortable if I did. It's in the past now.

"I have amazing memories and friends and when we meet up, it's great to look back and remember what we did together, but shirts on the walls or caps on the walls are not for me.

"All that stuff is in the attic. I've given a good few jerseys away to charities and rugby clubs, but I really don't know where the rest are."

O'Connell also confirmed his young son Paddy is currently taking his first steps in rugby, as he confirmed he would encourage his three children to play all kinds of sport as it had a hugely positive impact on his formative years.

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"My 11-year-old is playing rugby now and if he wants to play, that's great," he added.

"I believe in the discipline of sport, being part of a team, the adult role models you meet in sport... they are all so important for a kids' development. Some of the strengths I had as a person came from playing sport at an underage level, so I want my kids to try as many sports as they take and decide which one is best for them.

"A lot of my self-esteem and my confidence as an adult was developed playing sport and we are lucky in Limerick that there is a lot available and no traffic problems.

"It's very hard to make it in rugby these days and if it happens and he breaks through in the game, he will have the name to deal with. We will cross that bridge if it ever gets that far."

Aldi has partnered with the IRFU to launch a new cookbook in support of Barnardo’s. The cookbook called ‘Home’ for €11.99 features 72 delicious, family-friendly recipes.

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