A FORMER footballer who won a record number of youth caps for Ireland is now inspiring students at a North-East college.

Stephen Capper, a health tutor at Darlington College, spent five years as a youth team player for Sunderland.

The 29-year-old was forced to give up on his dream of a professional career due to injury.

He won a record 68 caps for the Republic of Ireland’s youth sides.

Mr Capper, who now plays for Spennymoor Town in the Northern League, retired from the professional game after a persistent foot injury.

This prompted an interest in lower limb medicine and he gained a first-class BSC degree from Durham University.

He gained a distinction in advanced medical practice and now also runs a sports medicine clinic.

Mr Capper is now using his life experiences of football and education to inspire students at Darlington College, where he tutors in anatomy, physiology and research methods as well as furthering his own education by studying for his teaching certificate.

He added: “I came from humble beginnings but have captained my country and travelled the world.

“I have had experience of the world of professional sport and can appreciate how people learn because I have been through the whole process myself.

“I am always looking for new challenges and always wanting to improve myself.

“Health is a profession that keeps evolving with new standards being set.

“It’s important that students know that staff are trying to develop and increase their own knowledge.”