Cross The Line caught up with Hartlepool United striker Rakish Bingham, to discuss how his faith and football career coincide.
So Rakish was it always going to be football for you?
“Yes it was always going to be football, even when at times it was like the hope I had wasn’t going to get me through, I dug deep and believed. I just persevered really and it paid off.”
Who was your footballing role model growing up?
“Oh Thierry Henry without a doubt, still is and always will be my number one.”
What was it like to join a big club like Wigan as a teenager? How did it come about?
“At the time I was at a football college and from then onwards someone I knew through a friend, ran trials. They would basically get scouts to come and watch young players who didn’t have clubs and I played really well in that, scoring two. I then got a call three days later and was told I was going to go to Wigan for a two-day trial. I told college that I was not going to be in over the next two days because I had got a big opportunity. I went there and the first day they told me that they wanted me to move up, so, being from London I basically had to move all the way up to near Manchester. Looking back now, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
How are you finding life in League Two with Hartlepool? Enjoying the challenge?
“It is good, the past year probably didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, football wise, but I am still here and I still have time to fulfil my expectations of what I want to do here. 2016 has started well for me in terms of training and I have a positive mind-set that wants to put it right in the second half of this season. On a personal level as well as for the team.”
Who is the best player that you have played against?
“I would say Paul Pogba, it was Manchester United reserves vs Wigan reserves, he was unbelievable. He was definitely noticeable and also Ravel Morrison was good at that time as well. However you look at what Pogba has gone on now to achieve and you can see how far he has come.”
What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro footballer?
“I honestly don’t know, I was always into business so would probably be looking into that kind of market. If not I would just be an everyday sort of guy, probably retail.”
Who is the best strike partner that you’ve played with?
“That’s a tricky one because I have not really had many, I wouldn’t say anyone really because usually for the youth team at Wigan I was up top by myself. My professional career has been too short so I haven’t really gelled with any other striker so far.”
When did you come to know Jesus? How did it come about?
“I have been going to church since birth really, mum was always taking me there with the family so I was always around it. However I think I personally started to believe was when my contract at Wigan expired and I was without a club, just trialling everywhere. I had no income or anything so it was hard to move home and where I am from is not the nicest. I was back to that struggle. I started going back to church and I prayed every day, went to church every Sunday and I left everything in his hands. I just tried to believe in him and myself, after this, things started happening for me. I just prayed and thanked God for the opportunities because I wasn’t going anywhere and at that point I didn’t know where the next opportunity would come. This was all about a year and a half ago.”
How has knowing God changed your life?
“A lot of good things have started happening for me, at the time I was playing really well at trials but I still wasn’t getting signed. So I was asking why, I didn’t know why this was happening to me. I kept believing that there was something around the corner, coming for me, even when there seemed to be nothing, and it happened. This is when belief started coming when the things that I was praying for were answered. There must be a God.”
Have you ever had any positive God chats with team mates?
“Yes one hundred percent, me and Ebby (at Hartlepool) when we were together used to pray before any meal we ate and celebrate. It is something that I practiced and have just got used to doing. It makes it much easier to have Ebby with me because not everyone believes, some think it is a myth, so to have a friend that believes is great.”
Do you see your football ability as a gift from God?
“Oh one hundred percent it is a gift from God. I sometimes still struggle to believe in myself as much as other people do, everyone speaks of how talented I am but sometimes I don’t see it and that has probably been my downfall at some points. However my ability has definitely come from God because I always knew what I wanted to do, my mum says that the first thing I ran for was a ball.”
Does God feature in your game-day routine?
“Yes definitely, because if God didn’t feature I wouldn’t be blessed enough to wake up. So I give thanks every morning anyway. Even with both my negatives and positives I am still alive to change things around so every day he plays a part in my life. Whether it is a game day, training or I’m away from football. That’s just how I see it.”
What does the future hold for you?
“Well I just pray that he continues to bless me, strengthen and guide me. I just want to express to the world and the people that believe in me, my talent. I know that there is a lot more to come from me from what has been shown so far. I am so thankful and I pray that he continues to bless me. I don’t want to jump the gun because I don’t know what is going to happen, but for me, the sky is the limit. It is down to me and God together.”