Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Football Prizes and Following Christ

It’s 22:52 as I start writing this, and I’ve just seen Manchester United lift the UEFA Champions League. They have now won the top trophy in Europe for the third time.

I am a Liverpool fan which makes the club on the Red side of Manchester my most bitter enemies. Yet I sit here and have to say without any malice in mind or even resentment that I am happy for Manchester United. They deserve to win the trophy. They have been a better team than anyone else in Europe all season, they have showed the class needed to win the important games when it mattered and played classy football when they needed it. Congratulations Manchester United.

When you look at the team from back to front this is a team that deserves to win the top trophies. Ronaldo has undoubtedly been the best player in the world over the season. Rooney has been awesome when he needs to be. The Vidic-Ferdinand partnership has been the best defensive partnership in Europe this season. I am really happy for Paul Scholes, he’s been a player I’ve always admired despite playing for United. One player that I do bring up is Ryan Giggs who has been such a loyal servant to United for so long and now has been decorated with ten league trophies and a number of other trophies over his time at the club. He’s been a great player and has matured well over the years adapting to squad rotation extremely well and deserves the success he’s achieving.

I am also not too proud to mention Alex Ferguson in all this. It doesn’t matter if it’s taken him 22 years to make it this successful, he has once more set the bar of success and has every right to the claim to be the most successful manager in British club football far eclipsing any achievements by Clough, Shankly, Paisley, Busby, Stein, Revie, Dalglish, Wenger, Mourinho or any other candidate you may care to mention. I salute those who succeed and so I pay tribute to the great achievement Alex Ferguson has brought about at Manchester United.

In fact to type this is not difficult for I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus and that means that football is not the be all and end all of my situation. Following Liverpool comes well below Jesus and as a result I can appreciate quality football when I see it and that is what United have produced this season. I may give an analysis of Liverpool’s season. I may not. What this is, is congratulations to champions.

And also to give it the spiritual spin that you would expect from me, Philippians 3 gives me an insight into another set of champions which is even more valuable than winning the richest prize in football. That is the prize of the high calling in Jesus and I’m grateful that whether Liverpool win or lose, whether Manchester United succeed or not, I want to collect the trophy of the crown of life after finishing the gruelling season of life following the only prize worth living and dying for – becoming like Jesus Christ. They say following Jesus is a matter of life or death – as Bill Shankly said, it’s a lot more important than that.

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