Kieran Richardson, Sunderland Midfielder, Says He Is A Born-Again Christian

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Richardson won the Premier League and League Cup with Manchester United | PA

A Premier League footballer once targeted by fans for his "bling" image is to tell of how he found God.

Sunderland star Keiran Richardson, whose attitude to fans while at Manchester United saw him dubbed Lord Snooty, says Christianity changed his life.

Richardson stunned football in December when he went public with his faith, celebrating a goal at Wolverhampton Wanderers by revealing a vest which read "I belong to Jesus".

The 27-year-old full back, whose Marks and Spencer lingerie model girlfriend Natalie Suliman is also a Christian, joined Good Word Ministries, near Durham City, last year.

He is gearing up to tell his life story at a church event next month.

He told the Northern Echo: "I've been a born-again Christian for four years. I was saved in Sunderland. It's changed my life for the better - through Jesus's death.

"People need to know if they feel they can't talk to anyone, the church is here for them. The main thing is having a relationship with God."

The London-born, privately-educated England international has never spoken publically of his faith.

Didi Dolopei, pastor of Good Word Ministries, Durham, said he hoped Richardson's story would inspire other young people.
The West Ham trainee was snapped up by Manchester United as a youngster.

He then signed for Sunderland in a £5.5 million deal struck by former boss Roy Keane.

He has since made more than 130 appearances for the Black Cats and is now the club's longest serving player.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of how hostility to the player from some Manchester United fans forced the sale.

He told the Sunday Express in 2007: "I let him go mainly because some fans were getting on his back and I don't like that.
"Kieran has great ability but he isn't going to flourish if he hasn't got everyone behind him.

"So when Sunderland made a good offer, I decided to accept and send him on his way with our best wishes."

Richardson will speak at A Life-Changing Event, at Good Word Ministries, Durham Business Centre, Langley Moor, County Durham, on May 4.