27 May, 2008

The Touch of Gavinity

No not a thinly-veiled ineuendo of what I threaten girls with at weekends, but a rather sharp pun that intriguingly sets up what follows. Earlier this year then we ran a rather excellent piece looking at religious footballers and the surprisingly unselfish ways several famous stars from around the world currently donate part of their salaries, and also plan to spend their retirement. That article was inspired by Fenerbahce’s Mateja Kezman, who recently decided that life as a monk was for him when the goals eventually dry up.

The latest figure to join the evangelical ranks is the BBC’s own Gavin Peacock, former Chelsea and Newcastle midfielder-turned-TV-presenter, who apparently plans to move to Canada after Euro 2008 to pursue a life in the church. After finishing work in Austria and Switzerland in June, the 40-year-old will up sticks with his family to Calgary to begin a three-year Masters course in Divinity at Ambrose Seminary, a leading theological college. Peacock will then become either a pastor, vicar or minister, depending on which denomination he chooses to follow, although STT is not quite sure of the difference. Which one was Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die again? His life may be in mortal danger if he chooses to be a Bishop.

Peacock has apparently been a frequent visitor to Canada in recent years and, having dropped a fair amount of mescaline there, has said that he finds the Rocky Mountains to be a deeply spiritual place. Furthermore he has studied for a BA in Theology at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, since last September to prepare himself for the life. Abstinence from pretty much everything fun is a serious undertaking, but from the age of 19, Peacock has been readying himself to take the plunge. IV-drips of vodka, three smokes on the go at all times, and prostitute-filled sexy parties have come to define the last 21 years of his life in an attempt to get it all out of his system, and now finally, he has reached the stage where literally he couldn’t drop another pill if you paid him; we know, we tried.

Since his formative Queens Park Rangers days, Peacock has hosted a Bible study group for footballers in his spare time, been a frequent speaker at his local church events, preached at his Anglican church in Kent, and even broken up his football commitments with presenting Songs of Praise. Back in the mid-90s, he was also part of a book project with local friend Alan Comfort, who dropped out of the game to become a Chaplain. Never Walk Alone is the clever title of the ditty, charting the life of the two sportsmen as they deal with being Christians in a competitive world. Admittedly I haven’t read it, but its probable high percentage of God-bothering makes it a bit rich for my tastes, even for journalistic purposes.

Peacock is a role-model for many young Christians in the modern game over here, with Linvoy Primus and Jermain Defoe often cited as high-profile examples. Quite how Defoe’s religion aligns with what we hear about him most weeks in the press is up for debate, but there can be no doubting Big Linvoy’s faith. The lion-like defender reportedly leads a prayer session before every Portsmouth match, as there are a high number of Christian players in the squad and also in the backroom staff. Rumours that Jesus himself played a vital part in Pompey’s FA Cup victory a fortnight ago have yet to be denied, while slow motion footage released today clearly shows the S.O.G (Son of God) standing offside when Utaka’s shot rebounded to Kanu for the winner…

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