MINUTES before walking on to the pitch at Wembley to play in the FA Cup Final for Chelsea against Manchester United, Gavin Peacock says a prayer. He prays, not to win, “but to honour God, win or lose”.
In the event, Peacock hits the crossbar with Chelsea’s best shot of the 1994 match — and United go on to win 4-0.
Peacock’s descriptions of the ebbs and flows of matches are among the highlights of this autobiography. He takes us into the minds of the peak-performing players who can keep running for 90 minutes or more, in front of cheering or jeering fans, keeping team strategy and coaches’ instructions in their heads.
He writes engagingly of being known as a Christian through 20 years of playing professional football, his transformation to being a successful TV pundit, and leaving football behind to train for church leadership and serve as a minister in Calgary, Canada.
Peacock recalls how he became a Christian as a young player at Queen’s Park Rangers, when he “realised that the biggest obstacle to happiness was that football was king instead of Jesus”. Years later, he could describe his footballing career as “a great opportunity and privilege to glorify and serve God”.
Alongside the footballing anecdotes and stories of family life, Peacock enthusiastically shares his Evangelical faith. Less helpfully for some readers, he also offers his perspective on issues ranging from the part played by fathers to the need for children to learn risk, which detracts from the book’s main themes.
The Revd Peter Crumpler is a Self-supporting Minister in St Albans diocese, and a former Director of Communications at Church House, Westminster.
A Greater Glory: From pitch to pulpit
Christian Focus Publications £11.99
Church Times Bookshop £10.79