Footballer Brad Guzan believes faith in Christ is the perfect goal. Matthew Murray discovered more about Aston Villa’s keeper
Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has told of the ultimate save – when Jesus turned around his life. The giant 29-year-old stopper, who has won 24 caps for America, is settling well into life in the Premier League. He is popular with Villa fans and has been a crucial part of their improving fortunes this season.
But the 6ft 4in keeper says football isn’t his number one priority – his faith comes first. “You have to have Jesus in your life,” he boldly declares. That is how I get through my personal life, how I get through my professional life – following Christ. He helps me through the tough times. It hasn’t always been a rosy road to success, and there are always going to be bumps along the way. Jesus helped me through all of those struggles.
“I think as a younger man in my early 20s, I would sit down and say, ‘Thank you God’, when things were going well. But when you get older you realise that there is a bigger picture than doing well on the football field. It’s about life. It’s about following Christ. So when things are going well – great – I give praise to him; and when things are not going well, I ask for his guidance and his help to keep me going in the right path.”
And despite earning thousands of pounds per week and becoming a Premier League star, Guzan says God keeps him humble.
“I think we all need Christ in our lives,” he adds. “Money, fame, all those objects, they don’t mean anything if you don’t have Jesus in your life. All of those things can be gone in the blink of an eye. We can’t get caught up in it. As professional footballers we are very privileged to do what we do and to be role models.”
Meanwhile, Guzan revealed he meets with Christian team-mates from the American national team to pray and study the Bible. “Our group of national team brothers comes together to pray, to speak about the Bible and Jesus Christ, to help each other through his plan for all of us. It is unique and most of all, it is awesome.
“We’re able to come together from all over the world at different parts of our careers, at different ages, with one common goal of talking about Jesus Christ and representing him on the national team. I think that our little group of players has slowly gotten bigger. As we bring more players into the national team, more guys are joining our discussions about Jesus, the Bible and what it means to be a follower.”
But despite his Christian nature, Guzan, who previously played for Chivas in America and had a loan spell at Hull City in 2011, is no softy on the field.
He revealed that he used to be a midfielder in his college days and even jokes with his Villa team-mates that he could do a better job on the pitch than them today.
“Before I went to University, for my club team in America back in Chicago, I played as an outfield player, probably because I was one of the biggest guys on the field,” he recalls.
“I was about 17 and I played in a national final. I just didn’t have the speed or the ability to carry on playing outfield at university level, so into the goal I went and here I am.
“I’d trained as a goalkeeper as well, probably from about 12 onwards. My older brother was a goalkeeper so as a kid growing up I always saw him playing as a goalkeeper.
“I used to play almost as a holding midfielder, in front of the defenders, as a kind of stopper back kind of thing. I used to go round smashing people.”
I tell some of the other lads, ‘I can do your job easily.’ In all seriousness, you know that for 90 minutes the guys in front of you have been working their socks off and running around.
“You know they’re most likely knackered come the end of the game, so you have a bit of sympathy for them because it’s not always easy, especially if you end up defending for long periods. So it’s good to have an understanding of what they’re going through.
“I’m definitely not at the same level as those guys or anything like that when it comes to playing outfield. You have a little bit of an idea but at the same time it’s probably a false idea.
“I try to have a decent first touch and to be accurate with my kicks, but I don’t think the manager will be asking me to play midfield anytime soon!”