Former Premier League footballer and one-time Norwich City transfer target, Linvoy Primus, spoke in Norwich last night (December 3) about how his life was transformed when he became a Christian.
The former Charlton, Barnet, Reading and Portsmouth player spoke to a packed Norwich FGB Christmas dinner audience, including several civic guests, at the Mercure Hotel in the city,
After growing up in Stratford, East London, Linvoy played for a Sunday youth side at the age of 12 and, after a trial, signed an apprenticeship at the age of 16 with Charlton Athletic.
He was awarded a professional contract aged 18 but after a year was told he was not wanted and he signed for Barnet and then Reading.
“I was always playing with anxiety and a fear of rejection after my experience at Charlton,” said Linvoy. “I thought happiness was playing football. But I was not really happy and there was something missing and I was still trying to prove something.
“I started chasing the dream of money for a little while, because the world tells you that the more money you have then the happier you will be. But it’s not true and because of it, my partner Trish started to suffer from depression. I had achieved everything I wanted to as a professional footballer but I was still not happy.”
Linvoy left Reading because he could not agree a contract and was offered one by Tony Pulis, manager at Portsmouth. For away games, Linvoy shared a room with his fellow defender, Darren Moore, who was himself a Christian, and he started asking Darren hard questions about his faith.
“Then my wife Trish got invited to church,” said Linvoy, “and initially I went along to make up the numbers, but I heard about Jesus, that you could have a relationship with him. It was probably after about six weeks of asking difficult questions that I finally realised that I’d filled my life with all these different things and the one thing missing from my life was Jesus.
“Weeks later I had an encounter with God where I was healed. I got hit by his power and at that moment I said ‘God whatever you want me to do I will do because I know you are real, I know this is it.’”
Linvoy believes that it was no coincidence that this realisation marked a dramatic improvement in his performances on the pitch. He was freed from the burdening pressures of results and a desire to please ‘every single fan’.
“At last I knew what real peace in my life was and my whole attitude to football and people changed as God changed me on the inside. As my confidence in God rose my relationships improved and I even began to play without fear and as a result perform to a higher level than I could have ever imagined.”
Linvoy continued to play for Portsmouth for several seasons, helping them to win the Division One title and get promoted to the Premier League, before retiring in 2009 because of a knee injury.
He was so popular at Portsmouth that the Milton Stand at Fratton Park, was renamed “The Linvoy Primus Community Stand” in honour of his outstanding services to the club.
He released his autobiography in 2007 entitled “Transformed” and went on to help found and work with the Christian charity Faith and Football which provides a range of community, educational and overseas programmes using football as a platform
He also walked the Great Wall of China to raise £100,000 for Prospect Children’s School in Ibadan, Nigeria and a new medical centre, school and orphanage for a village in Goa.
Linvoy was awarded an MBE in the 2015 News Years Honours list for his contribution to football and charities.