It is the mark of a true Christian to love both God and neighbour. It is very instructive to compare and contrast the lives of John Westwood and Gilberto da Silva. Both men love football but one does this in a good way and the other in a bad way. John has a tattoo on his chest that tells us what he really believes – "I'm Portsmouth till I die". Gilberto da Silva was a brilliant defensive midfield player who played football to the glory of God. He gave up professional football for six months in order to care for his mother when she became ill. What a role model he is!
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment.
Gilberto Silva is a former Brazilian player who also played for Arsenal as a defensive midfield player. He has very strong Christian beliefs. For example as a young, highly promising professional, he gave up football for 6 months in order to be with his mum when she was very ill. He wanted to support his family both emotionally and economically. All his friends thought he was totally crazy! But Gilberto lacked their tunnel vision.
Thankfully his mother did not die but recovered. He says – "I believe in God. I know a lot of people who don’t. I am a Catholic and I think when you make a sacrifice in your life you are repaid in the future – and that’s what happened with me."
He is now very grateful to God for his present happy life. He is very glad he can help his family, friends and their children.
A few years ago he helped support a 17-day tour of Brazil by a group of homeless players from the UK. Organized by Street League, a scheme for homeless refugees and asylum-seekers, it gave the group a chance to see that life in Brazil can be even tougher than here. A delighted Gilberto revealed that, since returning, one player had joined a club, another was coaching and a third had landed a decent job.
Although Brazil has many problems Gilberto stresses that he grew up in a poor village where everyone knew each other and were very friendly and cooperative. Gilberto loves football but in a way that honours the teachings of Jesus.