Jack Roberts spoke with Oxford City midfielder, Godfrey Poku on life as a football and as a man of faith.
How did you become a footballer?
Started when I was very young, about the age of 6. Played for a couple of teams and then started playing professionally when I was 18. So yeah, I started at a very young age to be honest and I’ve played for about seven teams.
You’ve played for many teams in your career. What’s it like adapting to a new team and a new environment?
It’s kind of different you know because you got new people but it is generally the same. There’s good banter and good vibes between the players, the staff, the management and the fans so it’s not really too much of a difference, it’s just that you see new people.
If you could play with any midfielder past or present who would it be and why?
Any midfielder I could play with in the world. OK, this might be a little bit biased but obviously I’m Ghanaian, so I like to follow my roots; I’ve always liked Michael Essien. I can see myself playing like him.
You’ve made a lot of apps in the National League and around this area, what’s it like playing in it and how competitive is it?
Oh, it’s very competitive. I think you have to be mentally tough. Physically strong because it’s a strong league and very hard to get out of. I’ve gone to two play-off finals and I still can’t get out of that so all above it’s a very hard league to get out of.
So you’ve been out on loan a few times, do you think you’ve benefited from them?
Oh 100%. I think the loans are beneficial. Not just for me but the teams as well. I’ve gone there to get match fit and that’s what loans are basically, because when you haven’t been playing for a while or you’ve come back from an injury you go to a team to get games and to get match sharpness. I’ve gone on a few loans; it’s definitely helped me and help me progress in my career. It’s definitely benefited me. It’s a good thing.
Can you tell us how you became a Christian?
I’ve been bought up in a Christian family. I go to church every Sunday and I try to go to church every Friday just for an hour prayer service. So I’ve been bought up in that Christian area since I was a baby. I go to a Pentecostal Church and my Dad is one of the pastors there.
Do you chat to any of your team mates about God?
I try to! I try to! It is very hard because I don’t want to seem like I’m forcing them but when I do they laugh it off as a joke. I always get questions like “If God is real, why does this and that happen?” I do talk to quite a few of the lads that aren’t Christians in my team. I do try.
What advice would you give to young Christians starting out in their football careers?
Well to be honest, personally for myself I’ve gone through a lot of challenges. I personally feel if it weren’t for God then I don’t think I’ll be where I am. Like, I still have a long way to go but I feel that with God it’s so much better and certain that I can reach my goal. I will tell any young Christian growing up that you’ve got to stick with God. Football things can change in an instant like, God forbid, you break your leg or all this stuff. Things can change but like I say you just to keep your faith. Stick with it.
What has God taught you since becoming a footballer?
To be humble. 100%. There has been a few that have come my way and wow it’s been a blessing. I think I’ve been taught by God to be humble and to just keep working hard because like it says Deuteronomy 28:12- ‘He will bless the work of your hands’, so that’s what I personally believe in and what I commit to him. He will bless me more and gradually.
Finally, what’s it like knowing God has plans for you in the future and you can totally rely on him?
It’s a great feeling. There will be days when I have my doubts and I will doubt a lot. I know that I shouldn’t but I do. In a positive mindset I truly do believe that God has plans for me and it’s a good feeling when you’re ensured that there’s better things ahead. Just have to keep faith and praying, praying and praying. That’s the key. Basically, have faith and I know things will be better.