Members of Christians in Sport (CIS) have spoken of the impact of Christianity in professional football.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Times, CIS General Director Graham Daniels highlighted the increasing willingness of footballers to talk about God.
Daniels, a former player and now Director of Football at Cambridge United, came to faith as a young footballer in the 1980s.
He said that at the start of his career the culture in football was “aggressive, drinking, womanising”, which made it difficult for him as a young Christian.
He believes players are now much more open to discussing faith, saying “I could barely find anyone who wanted to talk about a different perspective on life across the profession. Here I am now in this conversation.”
Daniels said he was “delighted the culture has changed” and added that he believes one of the great attractions of the Christian faith to professional athletes is that it is “not conditional on performance”.
The Times also spoke to Michael Johnson, former Birmingham City defender and now coach of England Under-21s, who said his faith in Christ helped him when he stopped playing.
He knew he was loved “not for playing in front of thousands of people” but because he was a child of God.
Nathan Jones was teased as a “bible-basher” or the “God squad” while playing for Brighton & Hove Albion and Yeovil Town, but now in management at Luton Town, says being a Christian has helped him earn the respect of the players.