I have had a wonderful football career, spending most of it in the Championship with Barnsley. The highlights are when we got to an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and were promoted from League One.
I truly do thank God for a wonderful life in football. I am still very active at Barnsley, being named club captain earlier this summer and thank God, I remain popular amongst the fans. I always try and work hard on the pitch, give my all and give the fans something to cheer about.
On the pitch, I’ve had the joy of playing against the likes of Steven Gerrard, Matthew Le Tissier, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien, but the most important moment for me came when I realised I needed a Saviour – that was when I gave my life to Jesus and became a Christian.
When I first came to Barnsley in 2004, I found myself reading the Gospel of Luke after been given a Bible by the club chaplain, Peter Amos. I would also ask many questions about faith and watch DVDs about Christianity. However, I didn’t feel ready to make a decision to become a Christian and, foolishly, shelved spirituality for the best part of five years.
Then one night just before going to bed, I began to ponder about life, and despite a fantastic football career and a happy marriage, I realised that I felt empty inside. It was then I began to pray and read my Bible again.
Six weeks later I told God that if he was real then I wanted him to be a part of my life. Two days later the chaplain came into the club and said he was doing a Bible study and I went to it. I began to understand Jesus and realised that being a Christian isn’t about having a boring life but about living life and living it abundantly, as Jesus said. I had sudden peace come over me and I can’t explain the joy and freedom I felt.
Since then, life has been amazing. I have always had a horrendous temper and everyone thought I would end up in prison when I was younger. But that aggression went instantly – it had to have been God. I can’t prove to anyone that God exists; they need to experience it themselves. If you want to become a Christian you have to have an open mind. I have atheist friends who won’t give God a second thought and think that science is everything. But the only way to prove God is to ask him into your life. You have to experience him for yourself. Repentance must be genuine and you must know you need a Saviour. It can’t be a trick to see if God is real. Jesus died on a cross for everyone – so give him a chance!