joel ward celebrating on a football pitch with the crowd blurred in the background

I Pray Before I Play – Says Joel Ward

In Articles, Direction Articles, Sport by Ben Hampshire1 Comment

I wouldn’t be in the Premiership without my faith

Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward has become a mainstay of the Eagles setup. But he admits that without his Christian faith he would not even be a Premier League footballer.

Ward spends the summer off season in a Nordic cottage with family and close friends, taking the opportunity to connect deeper with his faith in God. Faith in Christ is real for the wing-back, who kneels to pray before every game.

He says, “It’s to have a bit of a still moment. It’s nothing overly spiritual or crazy. I like to give the glory to God and that’s my way, before the storm of the game comes. I would not be in the position I am if it wasn’t for my faith, and for that I am blessed. I count myself privileged.

“Without a doubt my faith has helped me. From a young age, especially, I went about football in an un-conventional way.

“There was that big gap, three games a month for Portsmouth that I couldn’t play in because they were on Sunday mornings and there was church.

[swpm_protected for="2-3-4" do_not_show_protected_msg="1"] Palace defender knows God has a plan for his life [/swpm_protected]

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“So we agreed it would be once a month but it’s not really heard of now. It’s changed because churches have multiple services but back then it was different.”

There were times Ward worried his devotion to Jesus could cost him a career in top-flight football, but far from being the case, the Palace defender knows God always had a plan for his life.

He added, “I think you’ve got to trust the process. If you apply yourself then the plan from God is al-ready laid out. You don’t always know what that is and he gives you the free will to go for it yourself. At this stage of my life football is my platform.

“There is a sense of responsibility that while enjoying yourself you need to lead by example.

“I hope I do that. It’s something that’s important to me. To have an impact and be a role model and someone who people can kind of look up to.”


This article was taken from the February 2020 issue of Direction Magazine.

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  1. Thrilling to read of footballers who live for Christ. God strengthen them physically,mentally and spiritually and may they win many others to God!

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