Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
This is the evangelical pastor who has acted as a spiritual guide for Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud among the 30 high-profile footballers he also counsels to help them in their spiritual life.
French World Cup champion Olivier Giroud, 34, spoke with French newspaper ‘Ouest France’ about his friendship with evangelical pastor Joel Thibault who has offered him enlightening words for the past four years.
Giroud joked that he was “not going to pray for a goal” or a contract and went on to say that despite being very religious, he sometimes needed to be accompanied and Thibault has done just that, offering him an attentive ear and giving spiritual advice to help him deal with the pressures of being in the limelight and to stay level-headed.
The footballer superstar said: “It [football] was my reason for living. I thought football was going to make me someone, my daily life depended on the results.
“I needed to stop to free myself, to rebuild myself. And to reflect on who I was, what made up my identity. When you do things just to gain the approval of others or to perform, then you end up disappointed.”
Former Nantes right-back David Charles Alcibalde has also vouched for the pastor saying: “The good thing is that he never imposes. I do not feel remote-controlled, but responsible for my choices. For me, he has always been a confidant. “
Thibault reportedly serves as the spiritual guide to reported 30 high-level footballers over videoconferences and even acted as the chaplain for the France squad at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The pastor said: “Sport is only a mirror. The intensity of a 90-minute game is a reflection of our accelerated life, with its ups and downs, its excesses, its tenfold joys and its bloodshed.”
He said he likes to bring in the human and the divine into the lives of some the athletes who have their minds and bodies overworked from the stresses of being a professional athlete.
Giroud is currently going through a rough period with Chelsea starting in just one match in the current season.
He has scored 42 goals for France making him the second-highest goalscorer with 42, second only to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s 51.
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