Professional footballer for 18 years, playing for QPR, Newcastle United and Chelsea.
Playing in the 1994 FA Cup Final. Getting to final is a story in itself. The semi-final was at Wembley – we won 2-0 against Luton Town and I scored the two goals. So from a personal point of view that was my favourite game. It was even more special as it was the first time that Chelsea had got to the Cup Final for so many years.
It was great just to play in the Cup Final, even though we didn’t win it. But then you play in it and it’s gone. If that is just what you are hanging your hopes on, any success is just momentary.
My dad, who was a footballer for Charlton for many years and who has had a great influence on my career.
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Those words are so apt for the football world, because you can’t tell what is going to happen in the next training session, let alone in the next few weeks or years. To know that God has it all in hand and that Jesus tells me not to worry is very encouraging.
Everyone I played with knew I was a Christian. It was not something that I had to go and explain to people – what I stand for, what I believe. The other lads accepted it - they might not all have believed it – but they accepted it. I think I had their respect.
At times on tour the lads go out and have a drink and whatever. For me, as a Christian, the issue was where to draw the line. I’ve always made that my standard. Certainly, over my career I have been very clear about what I would and would not do.
Football is considered a macho sport and people might think you’re soft or whatever for being a Christian, and maybe they’re going to look at you critically for that. So you’ve got to be strong and say, “No, this is what I believe.” Sometimes it makes you more of a man to stand up and say that you do believe in Jesus Christ.
Before I was a Christian if I’d had a bad game or if the team had lost I’d be down and depressed about it for a long time because football was in the centre of my life – it was the main thing. Now that God is the centre of my life I’ve got a lot more perspective on it, and whereas I’m still disappointed when we lose and I want to win and play well, I know that’s not everything.
I’m not happy. It doesn’t really affect me in the sense that I can’t go out and enjoy an evening afterwards. But I’m not happy with having lost. I think that once you taste being a winner – and that happened at Newcastle when we got promotion to the Premiership, and in the cup runs at Chelsea – you want more. It’s inbuilt, and there’s no point in going out onto the football pitch if you don’t want to win.
I take my standards from the Bible. It states clearly in the Bible, if you look, what your standards should be on any subject that you want to pick. If you look in the Bible for what Jesus says about it, it will be there.
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Do faith and sport mix? Which side is God on? Can praying help win a race, get a hole in one or score in a penalty shoot-out? In these pages we interview sporting heroes who have some of the answers.
All the interviews are by Stuart Weir
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