27 June 2012
Telling my story
Linvoy Primus is hanging up his boots for good, leaving the football world behind and hoping that sharing his testimony full-time will inspire others to find faith…
Like many Christians, Linvoy Primus’s favourite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” We all love to know that through life’s twists and turns, through the dizzy heights and the desolate lows, that God has it all under control.
This truth has been a comfort and the driving force behind the former professional footballer’s career change. The husband and father of three, began his career at Charlton Athletic, moving on to play for Barnet and Reading before joining Portsmouth in 2000.
During his nine-year Pompey career, he saw the club promoted to the Premier League and achieve the unthinkable by winning the FA Cup. But there were also some tough times at Fratton Park as the club went into administration and relegation.
Linvoy’s role as an ambassador for the club came to an end in November 2011, but rather than be downbeat, he is looking forward to fulfilling what God has called him to.
idea: How did you become a Christian?
I became a Christian in 2001. Leading up to that, football had been my total focus and once I became a professional at 18 I tried to make as much money as possible and make the first team. By the time I was 26, I started to question what life was all about. When we moved to Portsmouth as a family, we were very lonely. My wife became ill and depressed and was invited to church with some Christian friends. I was very sceptical about it but about six weeks later I had given my life to Christ – a week after she had.
How did that go down in the Pompey changing room?
I saw being a Christian in the Premier League as an opportunity to share my faith on a bigger stage. Once people want to know you people want to listen. But it was difficult at first. There were two other Christian players at the club, but the rest of the lads really got into me about Christianity. At the beginning there were a load of them who were being quite rude and questioning if it was real. There were a few tragedies and one of the players died in a car crash and then 9/11 happened. People were in shook, but I stuck by what I believed in. They couldn’t understand how I could believe in someone that I couldn’t see. I was definitely swimming against the tide. After a year the banter changed. I didn’t go preaching. I didn’t ram it down anyone’s neck, I just lived my life the best I could.
So what was the highlight of your career?
I was in the Championship at Portsmouth and was told that I wasn’t going to play in the season. Someone got injured and then I stayed in the team and at the end of that season I was voted PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. That was the year we got promoted to the Premier League.
Won’t you miss football?
Football has been good to me, but when I found God, He was the one that made everything complete. As much as football used to be my god, it had nothing on Him. I have got a beautiful family and house and cars. Those are not the things that make Linvoy. It’s about loving Jesus first, that’s the one thing that matters.
But we as a nation are a bit football crazy, don’t you think?
I idolised sport when I was growing up but what you have got to remember is that there’s always going to be things out there to challenge God in terms of idolatry. If God is first, anything else will always be second. Because I put God at the top, everything else takes care of itself. If people choose to worship sport as their god they will find that it will always leave them empty. Football let me down, but God never has.
What are you going to do now?
I was made redundant from Portsmouth FC last year and have been seeking God. For the past 11 years of being a Christian, I’ve done what I wanted to do, but now I want to do what He wants me to do. He’s put it in my heart to tell my story as a ministry. What God has done for me, He can do for anybody. I’m fortunate enough that I played football and have a platform to tell my story and hope that God will use me.
Well, that’s a real leap of faith.
Are you worried?
What I have totally relied on in the past is my security. I knew when I was training or when my wages were coming in. I should be in a state of panic about this new unknown direction, but I’m not because I trust that this is what God wants me to do. If God’s called me to do it He’s going to make a way. We have just got to totally and utterly trust in Him.