MARVIN ANDREWS touched down in Scotland on a cold October afternoon wearing nothing more than a pair of jeans and a t-shirt ... but carrying dreams of stardom in his suitcase.

It was eight years ago, but little did the giant kid who stepped off a plane from half- way around the world know how his life was about to pan out.

Enjoying life in the semi-pro ranks with his local team in Trinidad and Tobago, the 22-year-old Andrews had actually held the ambition of becoming a fireman as he grew up.

But a plane ticket was thrust into his hands by a coach who felt Andrews had something special, and his amazing story was to begin.

Andrews lined up today at East End Park for Rangers in their crucial game against Dunfermline.

But the devout Christian admits this time of year always lends to reflection of how he has reached this destination in his life.

Andrews revealed: "I was playing for the Carib Lager brewery team in Trinidad and Tobago and it was part-time football.

"I enjoyed that as I had never really seen myself as being a footballer on a professional basis.

"I wanted to be a fireman because I liked the fact they saved people's lives and also because of the way they charged around on the trucks.

"My coach there said to me I was wasting my talent in Trinidad and told me he had a plane ticket for me to go to Scotland.

"I had been around the world a bit with the Under-18 and Under-20 national teams but never to Scotland. All we saw on TV was football from England and Italy so I had no idea what I was walking into.

"I arrived on a cold October day wearing a t-shirt and jeans and thought 'what I have done' "It was freezing and I did not think there was any way I could play football in this country."

The first Scottish manager to set eyes on Andrews was a certain Alex McLeish, then just cutting his teeth in management at Motherwell.

Big Eck had been tipped off about this huge young man with such physical raw attributes, and Andrews went to work on getting himself a deal.

He went on: "I had a two-week trial arranged at Motherwell where Alex McLeish was the gaffer.

"I did OK but he was honest and said he was looking for a bit more experience and I was only 22.

"He needed someone to go straight into the team and I had no idea about Scottish football.

"My agent then took a call from Jimmy Nicholl at Raith and after a trial I got a two-year deal in February 1998.

"Of course it was tough as I was young and knew nothing about the country, but I moved into a lovely B&B in Kirkcaldy and they treated me like family.

"I actually stayed there for four years and only left to get my own place a couple of years after I moved to Livingston in 2000."

It was during his time at Raith that Andrews was to come across the man who would introduce him to a new way of believing.

His mother had always reared her son in the Word of God back in the Caribbean, but an injury dilemma led Andrews down the road that he follows so closely now.

Many in Scotland have poked fun at his beliefs, but this is something that doesn't concern the Rangers defender who turns 30 next week.

He smiled: "I hadn't gone to church for four or five years when I was back in Trinidad and Tobago, I just read my Bible every day and prayed a lot.

"But when I signed for Raith Rovers in 1998 I picked up a bad groin injury and the doctors told me I would need to have a metal plate inserted into my abdomen.

"I didn't want to have that done and I spoke to my close friend, Tony Rougier, who was playing with Hibs at the time.

"He took me to the Zion Praise Centre International and I met Pastor Joe Nwokoye.

"We prayed together and from that day on I put my faith in God and the church to help me with any problem, be it physical or anything else in my life.

" I never had that operation, and that's why I didn't have one on my knee last year.

"I go to church now every day after training and also to the services on Wednesdays, Fridays and twice on Sundays.

"If I can't make it because of games then I pray in my car, wherever I am.

"The church is not a building, it is around you all the time."

But what kind of reaction does Andrews get from his team-mates in the dressing room?

The image of a typical footballer is one of someone who races away from training in their fast car to the luxury homes, not to church.

"The players at Rangers respect my beliefs, as have all the guys at every club I've played at since coming to Scotland," he went on.

"They actually ask me a lot of questions about it and they are very interested. They want to know why I believe in it so strongly and I tell them.

"Faith is the most important thing in my life and I could not be where I am in football without it.

"I don't get upset at all when I hear or read about people laughing at me. I know what God means to me and that is the most important thing."

Andrews has now started enough games in the past two seasons to earn himself a one- year extension on the contract that expires at the end of this season.

That will allow him to continue the excellent relationship he has forged with the Rangers fans - and go off to his World Cup adventure with Trinidad and Tobago this summer with his future secure.

So how does he feel being a cult hero?

"It has taken a bit of getting used to, but I love the Rangers fans," he smiled. "I think they appreciate the way I play the game for them.

"My mother always said to me that if you are going to do anything in life, then give it everything you have.

"I give Rangers 110% every time I take to the field. I think supporters deserve that.

"I never felt I would be as successful at such a big club, but I know I have to keep on working to improve, especially with the European games."