08 March 2011
Brian Irvine - Footballer
Brian Irvine was a professional footballer for 21 years. After school, Brian worked in Clydesdale Bank and obtained a National Banking Diploma. He left the bank after three years to become a full time footballer with Aberdeen FC. Brian was signed by then manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 1985 and played over 1000 professional games for Falkirk, Aberdeen, Dundee and Ross County. He represented Scotland on 9 occasions and retired from playing in 2003.
Brian wrote the autobiographies Winning Through and What a Difference a Day Makes.
A seven minute interview with him can be accessed on www.thistlechannel.tv/brian-irvine
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I dreamt of being a football player but thought it would only be a dream. My dream team as a boy was Aberdeen, the team I would later actually play for during 12 years.
How did you get involved in top football?
I was spotted by a Falkirk scout who asked for a trial and signed me as a semi professional for Falkirk in 1983. After 2 years at Falkirk the same thing happened when an Aberdeen scout watched me play at Falkirk but this time was signed for transfer fee of £110,000.
What is the highlight of your football career…?
Scoring the winning penalty in the 1990 Scottish Cup Final for Aberdeen v Celtic in front of 60,000 people. Aberdeen won 9-8 on penalties and I had the privilege of hitting the winning penalty.
Also playing for Scotland v Italy in the Olympic Stadium in Rome in the World Cup qualifier in front of 70,000 in 1993.
… and the lowlight?
Whilst playing for Aberdeen FC I was on top of the world, apart from a niggling doubt concerning a strange tingling in my feet. In 1995 I was diagnosed with MS. The doctor's pronouncement hit me like a bombshell. It's as hard for me to say these words now as it was to hear that news then.
I remember lying on a hospital bed, thinking: "Any caps, any medals, any success that football has brought me, what good is that to me now?"
But I have come to see the verse in Romans 8:28 as a true reality: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". God has been my strength and I trust Him for one day at a time
What role did your faith pay in the beautiful game?
It is central to my life and my football. I tried to play to the glory of God on and off the pitch. I tried to live what I spoke of in the times I shared my faith by mouth.
What is your hope for this country in hosting the 2012 Olympic Games?
I hope the athletes will compete fairly without any scandals. No terrorist attacks. I hope the country will not get into excessive debt because of the hosting costs. And finally, I hope that there is a benefit to UK youth with the facilities and legacy left after the games have finished.
What makes you happy?
Good relationships leading to good times with family and friends. Doing simple or exciting things in life that make you think and appreciate life in all its wonder and beauty.
How is your faith sustaining you since you were diagnosed with MS?
It has taught me to take one day at a time as my way of living; I trust in the Lord Jesus every day for salvation and health and my most basic needs.
What are you investing in the younger generation?
After retiring from professional football I took up work with an Inverness-based youth organisation. Youth Inclusive works primarily with youngsters from the Hilton area of the city. I also travel throughout the Highlands encouraging youngsters in their growth towards a healthy adulthood.
I invest my time, experience, wisdom, hope. I try to give them positive direction in life, which includes the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I didn't get where I am today without….
Listening. We have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak.
What is your dream for society?
For society to become godly, moral and ethical. Putting God first in society.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
If you fall seven times the most important thing is that you get up eight times!!
Tell us a joke
Did you hear about the vegetarian who passed away recently?
There was a big turnip at his funeral.