Footballer: ‘My Christian faith has been an anchor’

A Premier League footballer has shared how his Christian faith has given him “an anchor” in life.

In an interview with The Times, Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward spoke of his upbringing in the faith. He lived with his family in the grounds of a Bible college in Emsworth until he was 12-years-old, and even after moving house, the family was still “very heavily involved” with the work of New Life Christian Church.

He no longer attends that particular church but said the “important thing” for any church “is the Gospel of Christ”, adding: “That’s the message, the sole message of the Church. The grace and gift of God.”


Ward told The Times that his Christian faith has given him both “a moral compass” and “an anchor to hold on to”.

He said: “It’s been a constant throughout my life and kept me steady and consistent.”

Previously, the footballer has explained that he kneels to pray before each match because: “I like to give the glory to God and that’s my way, before the storm of the game comes.”

‘Never looked back’

In 2020, former Crystal Palace and Barnsley forward Bruce Dyer revealed how God pulled him out of a life of drink and drugs and turned his life around.

By the time he was 23 he was depressed and ready to quit football, but after learning of his brother’s testimony, who became a Christian while in prison, Dyer said “I never looked back”.

Now retired from football, he has helped to plant Love Life UK Church, an independent evangelical fellowship where he serves as pastor. Ditto

‘No greater privilege’

Another footballer-turned-pastor is former Newcastle and Chelsea midfielder Gavin Peacock, who told The Christian Institute about his life as a top footballer and why he entered ministry.

Peacock left school at 16 to play professionally for Queens Park Rangers, but he said “I wasn’t satisfied as I thought I would be, because football was my god”. After he was saved, he was able to continue with his career, no longer idolising football, but putting God at the centre.

Drawing comparisons between football and faith, he said that “nothing quite compares to going up there [the pulpit] on a Sunday, whether it’s 25 people or 2,500 people, and preaching God’s word. Because eternity and heaven and hell hangs in the balance and you’re dealing with people’s souls, and there’s no greater privilege”.

Also see:

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