This week, a UK newspaper featured a story on Jon Russell, a professional soccer player who is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I know I’m quite rare,” Russell, 21, told Mike McGrath of The Telegraph, referring to the fact that he’s perhaps the only member of the Church among the ranks of UK footballers.
Russell spoke about the role his faith plays in his professional life. For example, he said that he prays and reads the scriptures before every game, which brings him peace and confidence.
“Praying and reading helped calm me down,” he said. “It’s been one of the biggest parts of my life and now it’s like a pre-game ritual. That is what I have, and I feel God is there helping me. When I was young I would be petrified before games. Having faith made me confident and less scared.”
Speaking of whether he’s aware of other Latter-day Saints playing professional soccer in the UK, Russell said, “I think I’m the only current one at this level. … That is cool because a few people come up to me at church and say their kid wants to be a footballer and I can speak to him. At church there are a lot that look up to me. I’m not at the top level so I don’t expect anyone to look up to me, but I help the kids at church and that is a massive part.”
Russell has also shared glimpses into his faith on social media. For example, one Instagram post includes the caption “Only in God there is fullness of joy.” And when Russell’s team, Hudderfield, clinched a spot in the playoffs, he celebrated in an Instagram post with just the word “Fooooootball” and the hashtag #allpraisestothemosthigh.