Former Manchester United trainee, Arthur Irawan: “Serving God is what it’s all about”

Waasland Beveren full-back, Arthur Irawan caught up with Cross The Line to discuss what God has taught him through football and how he juggles it all. 

Who was the biggest sporting influence on you as you were growing up?

“Honestly I would have to say that is Kobe Bryant, his work ethic, dedication and determination is second to none and that’s how I base my life and game as a pro footballer now.”


It was reported that Manchester United were interested in you as a youth, were you made aware of this?

“Yes I trained with the academy but was never able to sign professionally because of the strict working permit policies in England.”


What was it like to be signed by a big La Liga club like RCD Espanyol? How did it come about?

“It was a great feeling, I felt very blessed to be given the opportunity and confidence by the club coming from a country like Indonesia. An agent brought me to trial for the club after he saw me play a few games in England and I was trialling in Espanyol for about 2 months before they chose to sign me and offer me a 4-year contract.”

You then went on to play for Malaga B, what’s the main difference between football in Spain and Belgium, where you are currently?

“I think it’s two different footballing styles, in Spain it’s more technical and tactical whereas Belgium is more similar to the premier league. It’s a very direct sort of football and more physical than the Spanish league, but I enjoy both in their respective ways.”


So how did you come to have a personal relationship with Jesus?

“My parents are both devoted Christians and I was always raised in a Christian household, I always went to church every week since I was young but I never really truly felt His presence until I started my pro footballing career. I faced a lot of difficulties and obstacles in my first couple years as a pro and that’s when I truly devoted my life and relied on Him for everything. When you are at your lowest you are closest to Him and that’s truly the greatest gift God can give you, to know Him. Now for me football is a tool to serve and glorify His name.”


Who is the best player that you have ever played against in your career to date?

“I would say it would be Valencia’s left back Jose Gaya. I was playing as a right winger at the time and he gave me a hard time in attack and defence, he was so fast it was hard to beat him one on one and he was always making me track back because he was always bombing forward, on top of that he had great technique!”

Is it hard to get plugged into a Church with the hectic football schedule, how have you coped?

“Yes it is really difficuly as we play on Sundays sometimes and in Spain it was Sundays most of the time. However if I can’t go to church I will always watch preaches on my laptop. I watch the likes of Joel Esteen and Pastor Joseph Prince.”


How proud are you to gave represented the Indonesia national team?

“It’s always a great feeling and a proud moment to be able to play for your country.”


What has God taught you about yourself through football?

“For me football is a way to inspire people and to be able to show people that with God you can achieve anything as long as you believe and work hard, but for me football is a means to an end because in the end serving God is what it’s all about.”

How does God feature in your match day routine?

“I read the bible every morning and pray every morning no matter if it’s a match day or not. During a match day I would say a prayer before leaving home and during the trip to the stadium I would always listen to gospel music.”


Do you have a favourite bible verse?

Matthew 19:26- Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

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