We caught up with now-Cambridge United defender and Christian, Leon Legge to ask what’s it really like to be a pro footballer, behind the scenes.
What is it like to be a professional footballer?
To be a professional footballer is a great job to have, but at the same time it can be very stressful. A lot of outsiders think it is the perfect job but with every job there will always be the rewarding times and stressful times. I think anyone who wants to get into football needs to be thick skinned and deal with the pressure of being a footballer today!
How old were you when you started playing?
I first kicked a ball at around 9 years old and just fell in love with the game from then on. I was always playing football with friends after school that’s all we’d do!
What was it like going from non-league to the professional game?
It was always my dream to become a pro footballer and I just never gave it up. I will always remember the day I signed my first pro contract at 24 years old. I had a lot of trials at other clubs but was unsuccessful for whatever reason, but it never stopped me from doing what I always wanted to do.
Can you give us a flavour of the pressures of being a footballer?
The pressure of being footballer is a lot nowadays especially with the social networking etc. It something that you have to be prepared for.
What has been your career highlight?
My career highlight has to be playing at Wembley stadium!It’s a great stadium and to play in front of 50,000 fans is something that I will never forget!
You’re a relatively new Christian aren’t you, how did that happen?
I became a Christian in the summer of 2014. It was something I had been curious about but never went through with it. Then my (now wife) took me to Grace Fellowship in Manchester to listen to Pastor Kevin Williams and after a couple of sermons and really listening to what he has to say it convicted me and made me look at my life a lot differently. I felt I needed to change my ways and from then on I declared my life to Christ, got baptised and now living my life through the word of Christ.
As a Christian, how do you deal with the pressures of the game?
As a Christian I deal with it as every Christian footballer should and pray and trust in Christ. I thank God for whatever is happening in football. I pray in the good times and pray in the bad times as I know Christ is with me!
Is it hard to be a follower of Jesus in Football?
Being a Christian in football can be hard, there are many obstacles and the dressing room is different to any other kind of workplace. You have to be very wary of the goings on in a football clubs dressing room. I.e the banter, the pranks and the crude language.
What do your team mates say about your faith?
There are a couple of players who share the same faith as me and one player has asked to come to Church with me on a Sunday. I don’t get treated any different if anything when players see me carry the Bible to a game they ask questions and become curious.
Do you have a favourite Bible verse?
“My favourite Bible Verse is Psalm 16 verse 8 “I am always aware of the Lords presence: He is near and nothing can shake me” when I first read this verse it just got me and whenever I play now I always think of this verse and put this into prayer before every match.”
What is your favourite worship song?
My favourite worship song is “come home oh sinner, come home” this song really convicted me the first time I sang it in church and will never forget the feeling I had when first singing this song.
Who were your footballing inspirations?
I grew up as a Chelsea supporter and my favourites were Ruud Gullit and Marcel Desailly. I used to love just watching these two guys play.
What advice would you give to young players?
My advice to young players is to stay focused on football if this is really what you want. The finances and limelight of being in the public eye can easily catch you off guard and make you lose focus, no player is ever the finished article so always work on your strengths and even more so on your weaknesses!
What advice would you give to Christians who play football and feel they have to hide their faith?
The lord would never want you to hide your true faith, it’s something to be proud of and something that should be embraced and shared. We as Christians should be sharing the Lord’s word and be telling people what Christ can do for them because becoming a Christian has been one of the best things that’s happened to me. The Bible to me is like a guide to how to live your life, it’s all there written in scripture, the worries of this world are no longer there for me as I know Christ is control and I can put all my faith in him, whether its in the good times and the bad!