MARVIN ANDREWS, the Rangers defender who has refused surgery on a damaged cruciate ligament, has spoken of his belief in faith healing and how it helped save his career once before.
The Trinidad and Tobago internationalist has rejected the advice of the Ibrox medical staff and insisted he is available for selection in their remaining eight Bank of Scotland Premierleague matches.
His decision to avoid an operation, and the typical six-month recovery period that follows, has caused consternation within the club and it remains to seen if, or how often, he will be selected by Alex McLeish.
Rangers are hoping the player will reconsider his position at the end of the season and agree to undergo surgery.
Andrews, though, has often openly discussed his Christian faith and his conviction in the power of prayer. He credits the curing of a debilitating groin injury he suffered during his time with Raith Rovers to the intervention of Joe Nwokoye, pastor at the Zion Praise International Church in Kirkcaldy.
"I was told I had an inflammation of my pelvis bone," he said. "Doctors and specialists told me I needed an operation to put a metal plate in my abdomen if I wanted to continue my career. I told them there was no chance I was going to do that.
"I went to church one day with Tony Rougier, who was with me at Raith. I never used to go to church much at that time, I just used to read my bible and pray. The minister told me that Jesus Christ could heal me. I always give people a chance, and I decided I was going to give him a chance too.
"God healed me because I kept praying and believing in Him. He healed me, and to this day the injury has never returned. That has given me even more belief.
"There are different instances where God has done so many great things for me, so that's why God has to be in the centre of everything I do. If He isn't, I won't do it."
Andrews is now a part-time faith healer, having made his debut in that very different sphere at Pastor Joe's church in January. He admitted the departure made him the butt of dressing-room jokes among his Ibrox colleagues.
"I just pray to God to deliver somebody from a problem, sickness or depression," he told The Voice newspaper. "God says that if you lay your hands on the sick they shall recover, so I pray to Him to ask Him to remove a burden, because I know He can. But I'm not removing it myself.
"Some of the lads have been cracking jokes about it all, and saying they don't need to see the physio any more because they've got me. But it's all in good spirits and, at the end of the day, they respect me for what I do and who I am.
"It doesn't go any higher than this here in Scotland, and it really is a dream come true for me. It's phenomenal to be here."
Andrews confounded critics after joining Rangers and firmly established himself as a first-team regular prior to sustaining the cruciate injury against Dundee on March 13.
Despite his delight in playing for McLeish's side, he revealed a desire to test himself in the Premiership, where his compatriots, Dwight Yorke and Shaka Hislop, have previously enjoyed success.
The very continuation of his career, however, may be threatened if he further damages his left knee by continuing to train and, possibly, play.
"I might play in the Premiership one day," he said. "It's an ambition because it's one of the best leagues in the world, and I would love to do that. But my destiny is ordered by God. If he wants me to go to England, he will send me to England."
Andrews withdrew from the Trinidad and Tobago squad for the current round of World Cup qualifiers last week, although the extent of his injury had not become fully apparent at that stage. His presence seems to have been missed as his nation slumped to a 5-1 defeat against Guatemala on Sunday and they will be praying as much as Andrew's himself for a speedy recovery.
"All we hope is that the right outcome is reached for Marvin," said Shaun Fuentes, spokesman for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, last night.
"Our coach, Bertille St Clair, is aware of the situation and we have been in touch with Marvin. Obviously, Marvin believes what he is doing is the best for him and we hope very much to see him back playing for the national team when he is ready."