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Marvin now on a mission for God - and Raith Rovers

But he still keeps the faith in Le Guen

By Billy Weir

A cold November afternoon in Portadown must have seemed like a million miles away from the golden sands of Trinidad for Marvin Andrews.

The former Rangers star was in Northern Ireland yesterday on a dual mission - to sign copies of his new DVD and to preach at the Emmanuel Church in Lurgan.

Faith and football are never far from the life of the gentle giant of a central defender who quickly became a cult hero at Ibrox.

His two-year stint in Govan came to an end, all too quickly some Gers' fans will tell you, when Paul Le Guen took over the reins in the summer.

His no-nonsense, all-action style made him a crowd favourite and it is the same in the considerably less exotic surroundings of Kirkaldy where he returned after leaving Rangers.

He started with Raith Rovers when he took the giant step of leaving Trinidad to fulfil his dream of playing full-time football in Britain, and while many clubs were interested in acquiring his combative services during the summer, his guide in his next move was not an agent but God.

Andrews' DVD is entitled 'With God, Nothing Is Impossible - The Marvin Andrews Story' and is certainly different from your normal run of the mill production.

But then again Andrews is very different from the stereotypical footballer - no drunken skirmishes outside nightclubs, writing off fast cars or squandering thousands on the gee-gees.

As he happily signed copies of the DVD in Portadown's Faith Mission bookshop, his huge smile lit up the cold day, and he chatted happily about the importance of God in his life and his mission to spread the word.

It's all a far cry from his upbringing in Trinidad, and although he has been away nine years, he beams with pride when he talks of his greatest achievement in football - helping the Socawarriors reach this summer's World Cup.

A freak training ground injury, when he tangled with team-mate and close pal Russell Latapy, meant he couldn't play in Germany but far from throwing the toys out of the pram, he accepted that it was part of God's plan for him.

It was a case of third time lucky for Andrews as he enjoyed his first visit to Northern Ireland and he has enjoyed the warm welcome he has received, although the weather was more of a shock.

"It's the first time I've been here because I missed the two trips here with Rangers when they played Linfield, but finally I'm here and I'm really enjoying the people," he explained.

"They are lovely, and very welcoming, but it's very cold!

"It's not just about selling my DVD, it's about letting people know that your dream can be fulfilled with God, no matter what job or work you have, as long as you apply the Lord Jesus Christ to your life you are going to prosper and that's what my DVD is about.

"It's to let people know that you are going to have loads of obstacles, loads of people who are going to tell you you're not going to make it, but as long as you put your faith in God you can make it."

Football has given Andrews the chance to help spread the Word, and it's all a far cry from his upbringing when playing Champions League football was the furthest thing from his mind.

"Nine years ago when nobody knew who I was, God made me somebody in this part of the world and I know that God can do the same for anybody else," he stressed.

"From all the way to Belfast from Trinidad is a very, very long distance but it is all the plan of God for Marvin Andrews and that is why I am here.

"My dream wasn't even to be a professional footballer; I wanted to be a fireman and save peoples' lives, but God had a different plan for me.

"I used to play football for the fun of it in Trinidad, it was just a sport, not a business, and I just kept loving it and started to take it really seriously and God directed my path and I'm now playing professional football.

"I'm back at Raith now and they are calling me the 'prodigal son' and I'm having a fantastic time.

"Although it is a lower division, I'm really enjoying it and to be a blessing onto younger players by letting them know they can fulfil their dreams and ambitions, and can play for Rangers or Celtic one day. No matter if they are at a smaller club now, tomorrow they can be at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"I'm the prime example of that, I started at Raith and ended up at Rangers and it's just letting the young boys know that they can do it. I'm one of the older guys and I'm so happy to be there and try to guide them the best that I can."

And that includes a man now plying his trade in Lurgan, his international team-mate Atiba Charles.

Like Andrews, Charles has made the long journey to try and break into the full-time game, using Glenavon to put himself in the shop window.

"Atiba is a really good mate, we went to the World Cup together, and he's a really great guy who believes in God," he explained.

"He says I've been an inspiration to him and looked at me as role model because I'm a defender and I'm really looking forward to meeting up with him again."

While Charles made it to Germany, injury ruled out Andrews, but he is not bitter at having missed out on his big chance.

"It was the plan of God for Marvin Andrews, and the most important thing for me was that I took my country to the World Cup and that was a dream I held for 16 years."

"I had a fantastic time, the only thing is I didn't get a chance to play, but God knows best and that's how I look at it."

And it is the same when he speaks about the ending of his time at Ibrox. There was no running crying to the tabloids about Paul Le Guen and he is confident that the Frenchman can turn things round for the Light Blues.

"At Rangers the manager told me that I wouldn't be part of his plans, that is football. A new manager has new ideas and I respect him for that.

"The way I look at it is that my time at Rangers was up, and God wanted me to move.

"My summer was fantastic and I know people will look at it and say it was a disappointment to leave Rangers but it was God's will.

"Everybody has been telling me everywhere I go that 'we need you back at Rangers' and all I can say is that God has a plan and if it's the will of God for me to be back at Rangers, then the fans will see me back.

"I wish Mr Le Guen all the best at Rangers because that is life and everyone has their different likes in players, and I wasn't one of them, but life goes on.

"I had a fantastic time at Rangers.

"I have no regrets in my two years and I reached the peak of my playing career, playing Champions League football.

"I helped create history at Rangers by reaching the last 16 of the Champions League, and Celtic have now done what we did.

"I am so thankful for the fans. I gave everything and I learned that from my grandmother who said 'once you do something, you do it to the best of your abilities or you don't do it at all' and for me I played the same way for Raith Rovers, Livingston and Rangers."

Copies of Marvin's DVD are available from all Faith Mission Bookshops throughout Northern Ireland.

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