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MARVIN ANDREWS' first brush with Scottish football was one of rejection. The powerful Rangers defender doesn't do wry, so the smile on his face is as broad as it is honest when he recalls that the manager who told him he wasn't good enough - Alex McLeish - subsequently paid pounds-50,000 to take him from Livingston to Ibrox.

It was soon after Andrews arrived in Scotland from Trinidad on an airline ticket paid for by the manager of the brewery where he worked, that he secured a two-week trial at Motherwell, then managed by McLeish.

It was the winter of 1997 and the West Indian was only weeks away from his 23rd birthday and still trying to come to terms with the Scottish weather, the lifestyle and the fish suppers, when informed that he did not have a future at Fir Park.

"I enjoyed my two weeks at Motherwell, " said Andrews, "but the manager told me he wanted more experienced players who could come right into the team. I wasn't offended. My agent spoke to Jimmy Nicholl at Raith Rovers and he gave me a trial. I played against Dundee and it was the coldest day of my life and all the strikers ran by me all the time. Thankfully, I was given another chance, this time in another closed-doors game against Livingston. It was a night match and I had an outstanding game and was offered a three-year contract. That was in February 1999."

 Seven years on and four days away from his 30th birthday, Andrews now looks ahead to participating in two of the most prestigious tournaments in football, the Champions League and the World Cup finals.

The committed Christian puts his success down to his faith and a belief that whatever problems might befall him, God will come to his rescue. His decision, earlier this year, to spurn surgery on a cruciate ligament injury to his knee in favour of allowing his maker to deal with the healing process, has been well documented.

But it wasn't the first time in his career that his trust was put in God rather than the men and women in the operating theatre.

Speaking to Alison Douglas in the Rangers TV programme, Fame, Faith And Football, Andrews reveals that, while trying to make his way in the game at Raith Rovers, he suffered a severe groin injury.

"I had been a regular churchgoer in Trinidad before I arrived in Scotland, " he said, "and while I still prayed and read my Bible, I got out of the habit of going to church when I first came here. Then, when I got the groin injury, doctors told me I would need a metal plate put into my abdomen if I wanted to continue playing."

Andrews confided in his friend Tony Rogier, then at Hibs, who introduced him to Pastor Joe Nwokoye at the Zion Prayer Centre International in Kirkcaldy. His influence and insistence that prayer and worship and not surgery were the solutions required to fix the problem resonated with Andrews. The minister was proved right and from that day, Andrews took the view that if God could do that for him, what else could he do?

The Trinidad & Tobago international still lives in the Fife town and makes almost daily visits to the church and to meetings with Pastor Joe for prayer.

His belief in himself has transported him from the San Juan brewery team to the threshold of world recognition.

Little did he think that when the brewery boss told him he was too good to be playing part-time for the works team and handed him a one-way ticket to Scotland, that he would be playing at international level.

"I arrived wearing jeans and a Tshirt, " he said, "and I couldn't believe how cold it was. I didn't think I would be so successful as a professional footballer. I had more desire when I was a youngster to be a fireman saving peoples' lives. God had a different plan."

That plan clearly involved Nicholl, who saw something in the player that McLeish hadn't during his trial period at Fir Park. From Fife his next stop was Livingston and then, after winning a League Cup winners' medal, on to Rangers.

By then his attributes as a strong, powerful and enthusiastic centre back were recognised by McLeish, now in charge at Ibrox and looking to rebuild the team after the Dick Advocaat era.

It was a controversial transfer as, shortly before that move, Andrews had turned down advances from Dundee United, telling manager Ian McCall and chairman Eddie Thompson that God had advised him against it.

It was a statement that was to bring mockery, some might say derision. But he took it squarely on the chin.

"I was not upset at any fun made of me" he said. "People made fun of Noah when he built the ark where there was no water. Then when the rain started to fall the people realised he was right. It was the same at Dundee United. Some people thought I was foolish not to go but it didn't worry me.

"My faith is the most important thing for me, more important than football. If I don't have life I can't play football and God is the one who has given me life and strength."

There were no doubts in McLeish's mind second time around when he summoned him to Ibrox where Andrews is seen as a crucial component of the squad for the European campaign ahead.

And, as an ever-present in the Trinidad & Tobago side, his exploits in next summer's World Cup finals will bring him greater prominence.