Football is in my blood. My father, Keith, played over 500 games for Charlton Athletic. I became a professional footballer straight from school. I have played for QPR, Gillingham, Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Chelsea and finally QPR again - as well as England at under 19 level including on tour of Brazil.
Even my wedding to Amanda had to be fitted into football. I played for Bournemouth on the Saturday, married Amanda on the Sunday and reported back for training on the Monday morning!
From Bournemouth Gavin was transferred to Newcastle United. In my first season, Newcastle narrowly avoided relegation to the third division but turned the corner the following year.
My career really took off in 1993. First of all Newcastle United gained promotion to the Carling Premiership, I played for the Barclays League against the Italian League (Series B) and was chosen as man of the match. I was then transferred to Chelsea for over 1 million. The icing on the cake was the birth of our first child, Jake.
I scored 14 goals for Chelsea in his first season, several of them significant ones. Chelsea were the only team to beat champions Manchester United twice - both matches were 1-0 and I scored both times. Chelsea reached the Cup Final that year (1993-94) for the first time in 27 years. I scored the only goal in the quarter-final and both goals in the semi-final to get them to the Cup Final. Chelsea lost the Cup Final 4-0 to Manchester United with my shot rebounding from the bar with the score 0-0. Had it gone in, who knows what might have happened!
The following season I experienced European competition as Chelsea progressed to the semi-final of the European Cup Winners Cup before losing 4-3 to Zaragoza.
In 1996 everything changed at Chelsea. First of all, manager Glenn Hoddle left to take the reins as England manager. Then Ruud Gullit, a Chelsea player last season, was appointed player/manager for the coming season. Already he has signed three more overseas players in Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola Roberto di Matteo and Franck LeBoeuf.
Suddenly I found that there was no place for me in the team. Ten years in professional football have taught me to keep things in perspective.
That is the thing about football. You have got to keep a level head. If you do get carried away, football throws you from one extreme to another. Within a week you could be up at the top doing well then two games later, the next weekend you've dropped a few places you might be out of the team so you do have to maintain a level head about it. And of course, my faith helps me in that respect. With my faith I think that God gives me my self-worth, my value first so I am a Christian first and then I am a footballer.
I know that God has a plan for me in my life. That He is in control. No matter what happens if I am trusting in Him and we go through lean periods and through injury periods and all that. I think God does carry us through these periods and it is only when we look back that we've learned from it in that respect. I don't think that we can say it's totally OK all of the time and fine all of the time because it's not. You still, as a Christian, have your ups and downs but the good thing is that whereas maybe someone who doesn't have our faith has the same downs and perhaps their whole world would fall apart because that is what they are leaning on. I'm leaning on God and He never falls apart.
My interest in Christianity started through my mum. When she started going to church I went along a few times to see what it was all about. I had always believed in God, that he was up there somewhere, but there was never anything personal about it. I started going regularly and then made a commitment to Christ.
Before, God was up there somewhere but He was distant. Then I realized that Jesus is around us all the time. He is here with us now and it is that reality of knowing Christ really came home to me so I made a commitment. From then on it was a growing gradual realization of God in my life.
I am as ambitious as ever in my football but see differences in my attitude now that I am a Christian. Before I was a Christian if I'd had a bad game or if the team had lost I'd be down and depressed about it for a long time because football was in the centre of my life - the main thing. Now that God is the centre of my life I've got a lot more perspective on it and whereas I'm still disappointed when we lose and I want to win and play well, I know that's not everything.
Football is considered a macho sport and people might think you're soft or whatever for being a Christian and maybe they're going to look at you critically for that. So you've got to be strong and say 'No, this is what I believe'. Sometimes it makes you more of a man to stand up and say that you do believe in Jesus Christ.
I feel that football is as much a part of God's plan for his life as any other part. I think that being a Christian in sport - in football - you're there to set an example by the way you live and by what you stand for, for other people to look at. Come three o'clock on a Saturday, I'm there giving 110% but afterwards I've got a perspective on it that I hadn't before because I know what life's really all about. The game demands aggression at times and if that's the case, I'll go in for a tackle or whatever, but I wouldn't go to hurt an opponent because that would be wrong. I think I carry my faith through my whole life, both on and off the field.
After a second spell with QPR gave retired and now comments on football for BBC TV.
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