Javier Hernandez, Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge are among the many centre-forwards who believe God gives them a helping hand on the pitch
Javier Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen
Super-sub Javier Hernandez says prayer is the best pep-talk.
The Mexican centre-forward confesses he asks God to keep not only his team-mates but the opposition players safe from serious injury.
Hernandez, who is known as Chico (little pea in Spanish) by fans of his old club Manchester United, is not afraid to admit that faith plays a big part of his game.
“I always pray on the pitch before a game. It is an important routine for me but it is not superstition,” he said.
“I like to pray. I talk to God and I ask him to take care of the health of both teams because the worst thing for a sportsman are injuries, and there are a lot of accidents on the pitch that nobody wants. I like to ask God to take care of me, because he gave me the opportunity to play.”
Chico burst onto the Premier League scene in 2010 and had become a hit at Manchester United, although many of his goals came from the bench. The youngster has already been compared to United legend Ole GunnarSolskjaer, which he admits is flattering.
He added: “Ole is a legend at Manchester United. Usually people compare me to my dad or granddad.
“I’m only ten per cent of what Ole was. I need to work harder and keep improving to become like him.”
Jermain Defoe, Sunderland
It was a signing that shocked the footballing world when Jermain Defoe moved back to the UK from Canada to play for Premier League strugglers Sunderland.
He had bagged goals for West Ham, Spurs, Portsmouth and Toronto FC – not to mention 19 for England – when he joined the Black Cats in 2015.
And the London-born striker says his faith in Christ helps him each day.
Defoe, who attended a Christian school, said: “I pray every day. In the mornings, and before I go to bed. I think it’s important to pray, and not just when things are going bad. When things are going bad, it’s easy to pray and ask God to help you out, but it’s also important to pray when things are going well and show your appreciation.
“I think my faith is important. I’ve always been a religious person, and I try to think that every disappointment might just be a blessing in disguise.”
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Having struggled to make an impact at Manchester City and Chelsea, Daniel Sturridge has found a home on Merseyside.
The Liverpool striker’s partnership with Luis Suarez earned them the nickname SAS, and Sturridge hopes he can now take his club form into England internationals.
But the Birmingham-born star – who starred for team GB in the Olympics – revealed the secret to his success – prayer. He said: “My prized posses-
sion is probably my Bible. It’s important to me because I’m very religious. I believe you have to pray, as well as work hard, in order to get what you want from life.
“When I was growing up I prayed every morning and night – and I still do that to this day. I pray a lot and I’m just focused totally on my job and I’m enjoying it. I’m playing with a smile on my face.”
Read The Beautiful Game for more powerful stories of football stars with faith in God