United States men’s soccer captain Clint Dempsey is making headlines as he leads the U.S. team in the World Cup. While his talents on the pitch are capturing the hearts of Americans and the attention of the world, so is his Christian faith.

Dempsey, a native of Nacogdoches, Texas, openly discusses his faith and credits the sport he loves with helping him sustain his Christian views.

“Little did I know that the sport I loved and the skills I learned would later play a role in my relationship with God,” he told Sports Spectrum last month.

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Dempsey said that, he grew up in a Catholic family and went to church every Sunday with his grandmother.  But at 12 years old, he went through something that challenged his faith.

“My sister [Jennifer] died [from a brain aneurysm], and I was faced with questions about why things happen and what role God played in it all,” he said. “For a number of years, I struggled and put distance between God and me. But He was faithful and patient and provided gradual healing and strength.”

If you managed to catch the beginning of the game between U.S. and Ghana, you would have seen him raise his fingers to the sky after scoring an impossibly fast goal, just 29 seconds into the game.

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“That’s why I look up to the sky now when I score — to remember her,” he said.

After distancing himself from God, in college, Dempsey came to embrace his faith and pursue it more deeply.

“In college, I joined a team Bible study. God’s Word brought me peace and a desire for a relationship with Him,” Dempsey said. “I found that questioning Him and searching for answers through Scripture helped me grow and gave me direction. Now, my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence of the future. I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.”

Dempsey credits reading the Bible for giving him insight and direction.

“God provides strength, even when circumstances seem impossible,” he said. “Today, I pray for strength to walk the road before me. I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success He has given me. Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him.”

Dempsey lead team U.S. against the Germans today, and despite the 1-0 loss, with Christ as his foundation, he isn’t worried about the loss.

Despite the loss, U.S. is moving on to the next round and awaits the winner of Group H.

Photo credit: Nathan Forget (Flickr)