Joel Ward: I only played for Portsmouth once a month as a youngster - but I wouldn't be at Premier League Crystal Palace without my Christian faith
Joel Ward revealed his Christian faith meant he only played matches once a month when coming through Pompey’s youth ranks.
In an interview with the Telegraph, the right-back told he wouldn’t be where he is now without his religion.
Ward grew up in the New Life Christian Centre in Emsworth and joined the Blues’ academy aged eight after also representing East Lodge Youth.
He’s gone on to have a superb career, scoring six goals in 96 appearances before departing for Crystal Palace in 2012, where he’s become an established Premier League player.
That’s despite Ward playing significantly fewer games as a youngster than his Pompey team-mates. He missed three matches per month as they took place on Sunday mornings when he attended church.
But the 29-year-old credits his faith to getting him to the position he’s currently in.
Ward said: ‘Without a doubt my faith has helped me.
‘From a young age, especially, I went about it (football) in an unconventional way.
‘There was that big gap, three games a month for Portsmouth that I couldn’t play in because they were on Sunday mornings and there was church.
‘So we agreed it would be once a month but it’s not really heard of now. It’s changed because churches have multiple services but back then it was different.
‘I like to give the glory to God and that’s my way, before the storm of the game comes.
‘I would not be in the position I am if it wasn’t for (my faith) and for that I am blessed. I count myself privileged.
‘I think you’ve got to trust the process. If you apply yourself then the plan from God is already laid out.
‘You don’t always know what that is and he gives you the free will to go for it yourself. At this stage of my life football is my platform.’