Former football player and TV pundit Gavin Peacock has released an autobiography of his progression from pitch to pulpit.
When former football star Gavin Peacock hung up his football boots no-one ever expected him to transition from the pitch to the pulpit to pursue a greater glory.
Following a glittering career playing in an FA Cup final, being captain for Newcastle, Chelsea and QPR he then worked as a BBC Match of the Day pundit.
But in 2008 Gavin walked away from his high-profile life and moved with his wife and two children to Canada where he became the associate minister of Calvary Grace Church of Calgary.
Gavin’s journey towards full-time Christian ministry began for him as an 18-year-old looking for meaning in his life.
“My father, Keith, was a professional for Charlton and all I ever wanted to do was follow in his footsteps,” remembers Gavin now aged 53.
“I finally achieved my goal when I signed for Queen’s Park Rangers who were in the top flight then. Being a professional footballer gave me happiness, satisfaction and identity. I had a great career, good money and fame and adulation. But it didn’t really satisfy as I thought it would, because football was my god. Then one Sunday evening I went along to Barnehurst Methodist Church with my mother, just across the road from our house in Kent.”
After the service the church minister invited Gavin back to his house for a youth meeting, which proved to be the turning point in his life.
“When I walked into the room that night, everyone had such joy when they spoke about Jesus Christ that I didn’t have. Over the next couple of weeks the minister unpacked the gospel for me. I realised that my greatest need wasn’t the approval of the crowd on a Saturday but being in right relationship with the living God. I believed the gospel and was saved.”
And Gavin didn’t shy away from telling his fellow players about his new-found faith.
“I was very honest with the guys straight away. When you live with a bunch of players for ten months of the year they find out what you do at the weekend. So, I just started telling them that I’d become a Christian. They watched me to see if my walk matched my talk. I also found a new freedom in my life knowing that my identity no longer depended on my performances on the field. Before, football was my god and every sense of wellbeing, identity and purpose was tied up in that. Now it was tied up in Jesus Christ. I was free to work to the best of my ability to compete hard which actually made me the best footballer I could be.
“Football is great, but Jesus is greater. Football is temporary but Jesus is eternal.”
Now a pastor in Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Canada, Gavin has just published his autobiography.
“My great hope is that people read it as a football biography that’s a bit different which also tells a story of God’s grace. I hope it’ll strengthen Christians and it will challenge those who aren’t yet Christians. It will make people laugh and cry but it’ll definitely make them think.”
• ‘A Greater Glory – From Pitch to Pulpit’ is out now.