West Ham Archdeacon Elwin Cockett is a fan of West Ham manager Slaven Bilic


- Credit: Archant

I am a big fan of West Ham United’s new manager, Slaven Bilic.

Many years ago, I found myself in the same room as him, both of us having arrived early before a game. Knowing where he was from, I asked him about the war in Bosnia that was raging at the time.

To my surprise, Slaven then spent the best part of an hour with me, explaining in depth the complexities underlying that conflict, and putting forward his ideas for a peaceful future for the Balkans.

He showed a remarkable knowledge of the relevant history, law and politics, and I came away hugely impressed.

Now, I would be the first to say that you don’t need a university degree in international law to be a footballer, but I am very glad that my football club has a new manager of such intelligence, wit and learning. It can only help.

I’m also a big fan of our local MPs in Newham. Whatever our politics (and no, I am not a member of the Labour party or any other party, for that matter), it seems to me that we are particularly well-served by our Members of Parliament.

It was no surprise to me that Stephen Timms was elected with the biggest majority in the country.

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Like the best of his colleagues, Stephen is a dedicated and able MP, respected by colleagues of all political hues.

What do Slaven Bilic and Stephen Timms have in common? You don’t have to be a West Ham fan or a Labour party supporter to recognise that they are both bright, dedicated people.

What they also are is men of faith. Both of them have a faith in God, and neither of them is ashamed to say so.

It doesn’t stop them being competitive, nor does it require them to leave their intellect behind.

But at a time when the new Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is under fire for admitting that he prays, it affirms that it is perfectly possible to excel at things and believe in God. Thank God for that! More from Elwin

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