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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Keepy Uppy Champion Gets More than He Expected Outside TALK Nightclub Southend

Dan Magness expected to hear about Jesus at his local church.
He would even have settled for a weekend seminar on the Bible or how to pray.
Instead, Dan – the UK football freestyle champion – discovered Jesus at 3am outside a Southend nightclub.

He says: “I was in Southend with a couple of mates and must confess I was full of another kind of spirit. “We saw some street pastors talking to clubbers and I thought to myself ‘I want to go talk to them.’ “Minutes later, they were telling me about Jesus and I knew then as I stood on that drizzly pavement, that Jesus was my Lord.”

Dan, 23, shot to fame earlier this year as the man who trained the World Cup stars to do spectacular tricks with a Pringle’s can in the hit TV commercial. The ad, featuring big name such as Steven Gerrard and Roberto Carlos, delighted millions of viewers when it was shown between televised games. Adds Dan: I spent three days with the players in London doing that commercial. It was great fun and they were marvellous to work with. I felt very humble that such great footballers praised my talent. They loved the tricks and asked me to give them a few tips. It made my day.”

Dan is also a familiar face at half-time at some of the biggest premiership clubs up and down the country where he performs his dazzling tricks which include balancing a bicycle on his head. He won the UK football freestyle championship with an amazing variety of ball control skills – not least keeping a ball off the ground for a staggering thirteen and a half hours without a break.

But growing up as a football mad youngster in Guildford, Dan always felt something was missing in his life. None of his family were Christians and he’d only ever been inside a church for weddings and funerals. He finally found the answer to what he was seeking when a Christian friend gave him a book about another award-winning sports star to read. “The book was Taming the Tiger by Tony Anthony,” he explains. “Tony is a former three times World Kung Fu champion who killed people and finally came to Jesus while in prison in Cyprus. I’ve never been a big reader but I read Taming the Tiger in a weekend. It really touched my soul.”

Unknown to Dan, Tony Anthony is based in Southend – the very town where he and his friends chose to go clubbing a week after he finished reading Taming the Tiger. “God has perfect timing,” laughs Dan. "When I went up to the street pastors I told them I’d just finished Tony Anthony’s book. They said they knew him, in fact they shared a house. I couldn’t believe it. Tony’s book had started me thinking about Jesus and a week later, here I was talking to guys who knew him personally.”

Less than a year after becoming a Christian, Dan says his life has changed dramatically: “I don’t drink anymore or smoke and above all, I have a prayer life. “I also have a joy in me that is difficult to explain. I used to be bad tempered and impatient but now I control both. “God has given me a talent and I want to use it to praise His name. I don’t go out Bible bashing but it’s amazing how often I get to talk about Jesus to perfect strangers who come to watch one of my demonstrations. “I’ve also spoken to a lot of Christian footballers who give a great witness by the way they play the game and things like tithing.”

Although Dan had a youth contract with Wimbledon, he has never really wanted to play professionally himself, although he is a big Liverpool fan and hopes the club can repeat its European success again this season. While some football writers might claim that is a tall order, Dan Magness believes in miracles. As he says: “Amazing things happen when you least expect them – even in Southend.”

Article by James Hastings - Freelance Journalist

If any of the LRBC FC team want to read a copy of Taming The Tiger, let David Elcock know and we will get a copy. Tony Anthony is a member of Leigh Road Baptist Church.


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