MARVIN ANDREWS wants to play till he’s 40 — just like Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs.
The former Rangers defender, 37, is back turning out for Albion Rovers in Division Two. That’s whetted his appetite for playing on for another three years – despite having spent almost a year doing NOTHING.
A short-term deal to help out juniors Kirkintilloch Rob Roy came to an end last January and the giant stopper was out of football.
Once again Andrews turned to his faith to decide his future — and his belief system pointed him back to football.
The man who famously ignored docs to play his way to a title medal with Rangers weeks after a career-threatening cruciate injury, recalled: “This time last year I wasn’t playing.
“I’d helped Kirkintilloch out — their coach Jimmy Lindsay asked me to play for four games and I stayed for three months.
“After I finished there, I was training with Raith Rovers to stay fit, but I wondered if I was finished with playing.
“At the end of the year, in my church in Kirkcaldy, the Zion Praise Centre, we have a night vigil on Hogmanay. We end the year with God and begin the year with God.
“I asked Him: If you want me to continue to play, open a door for me.
“On January 2, Todd Lumsden at Albion Rovers called me to say his centre-half had broken his leg and could I help them out.
“I’m there till the end of the season then we will see where God directs me.
“That’s what faith is — I don’t need to know what will happen. I know my future is great, because God has a purpose for me.
“Only He knows where he will direct me next. It could be Scotland, Trinidad — even China. I’ll leave it up to Him.
“I’ve never had a permanent agent because God is my agent. He directs me where to go and where not to.
“In 2004 Dundee United wanted to sign me and offered me an amazing deal.
“Livingston were in administration and my wages had been cut. I went to Dundee, met Ian McCall and the late Eddie Thompson and told them God didn’t want me to sign.
Ian said: ‘Really Marv?’ I don’t think they had ever heard anyone saying God had told them not to sign.
“The newspapers had a field day — it was headlines like ‘God Blocks Marv Deal’.
“I’m used to people laughing when I say things like ‘God is my agent’.
“But if I don’t feel peace I don’t go. I can’t be in a place God doesn’t want me to be.
“So I went back to Livi and then we won the League Cup!
“Now I’m happy just to be playing again. Being on a football pitch at three o’clock on a Saturday is a lovely feeling.
“To be playing at 37 isn’t bad but my desire is to play till I’m 40 like Giggs. I can hang up my boots then.
“My good friend Russell Latapy also played until he was 40 and I would like to get to the same age – and Russell lived a very different lifestyle to me!”
Andrews might not have the silky skills of Giggs (right) but he has spent his career knowing people view him as a curio in football’s world because of his very vocal faith.
He doesn’t attempt to ram his beliefs down anyone’s throat but an hour in his company will convince any doubters about his belief.
He says: “I’ve never put my faith in myself or my ability, only the Bible and God. That’s the bit people find difficult to believe.
“There are those who say they don’t believe in God. Okay, that’s fine.
“But there will come a time when you have to call on Him.
“Fabrice Muamba said when he was lying dead on the pitch that his wallet couldn’t save him. His nice car and house couldn’t save him.
“People chase materialistic things but nothing is more important that the life you live. Health is wealth — never forget it!”
The fact Andrews still has sufficient health to be playing is, to use his own word, a miracle. He has twice been told he’d never play again — the first time 15 YEARS ago.
He recalled: “Everyone talks about my knee but the first problem I had was a thing called osteitis pubis when I was 22. Pregnant women get it from having children.
“I was told that if I wanted to keep playing I would need a metal plate in my stomach. If not, I was finished.
“Tony Rougier — who was at Raith Rovers with me — took me to Pastor Joe Nwokoye’s Zion church one Sunday and told him the problem, and Joe told me God would heal me.
“I started to pray every day after training — then one day the pain wasn’t there and I have never felt it since.
“Doctors told me that once you have this, it will always show on a scan.
“But when I went to Rangers and did the medical, it didn’t show up. That was a miracle.
“That was where my faith in God developed — from that incident and from that situation.
“My knee problems began at Rangers. We played Dundee and Stevie Lovell fell on my leg, bending my knee the wrong way.
“I had anterior cruciate damage. I spoke to Pastor Joe, then asked God if he wanted me to have surgery or believe in Him — and he asked me to simply believe.
“So I told the doctors at Rangers that I would trust in God, and of course they told me I was totally crazy.
“They were saying: ‘Marvin, this isn’t a broken finger, it’s a career-threatening injury. This is your life — no op, no play.’
“But I told them God will heal me.
“Of course, it was a big story in the papers — Marvin refuses doctors, God will heal him. I still have all the newspapers at home.
“I was in the gym at Murray Park trying to strengthen my legs. I could see the physios looking at me and thinking ‘What’s this guy doing? His knee needs reconstructed.’
“One day I went in for a meeting. David Murray, Martin Bain, Alex McLeish and his assistants, all the medical staff — all of them on one side, me on the other.
“They were saying ‘We respect your belief and your faith, but we need to cover ourselves,’ so I had to sign a disclaimer and take responsibility for whatever happened to me because I’d refused medical help.
“A week later McLeish said to me: ‘If you’re going to get better I need to see some proof.’
“I was jumping on one leg, people banging into me, knocking me off balance to see if it would give way beneath me. But it didn’t.
“They had me jumping from hard ground to soft ground and vice versa. Every test you can imagine and of course they were amazed.
“The Rangers doctor Ian McGuinness said:
‘You have opened my eyes to something new. You have made me look at things from a totally different perspective.’
“He said what I’d done didn’t make medical sense and six weeks after I got injured I was in the first team.
“I came back against Celtic at Ibrox. McLeish was in a dilemma — he was worried my knee would give way after five minutes.
“Loads of people were telling me not to do it. Players were saying I’d break down and be finished. Christians were telling me God works through doctors and I shouldn’t play.
“Ex-players like Lee Wilkie were telling me to listen to the medics.
“I’d played one reserve game against Clyde but I’d lasted 86 minutes.
“We lost the Old Firm game 2-1 so we’d four games to go and Celtic were five points clear with four games left.
“After that I told the fans to keep believing, that it’s not over till God says it’s over. That became a kind of cause, the ‘Keep Believing’ stuff.
“And four games later we won the league on Helicopter Sunday.
“Now? I don’t have pain from my knee. None. I played three weeks ago on the astroturf at Forfar. No problem.
“I had cartilage surgery on the same knee in 2008 and the doctor told the physio if I played again it would be a miracle.
“I’ve had five clubs since then and passed 100 caps for Trinidad. I keep telling people — all you need to do is believe!”