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Pupils hear men’s road-to-Damascus stories

A former football thug and a former drug addict revealed the secrets of their transformation into modern missionaries

By on Thursday, 23 June 2011

Neil Slattery and Matthew Biney talk to young Ambrosians (Photo: Johnson Carter)

Neil Slattery and Matthew Biney talk to young Ambrosians (Photo: Johnson Carter)

A former football thug and a former drug addict revealed the secrets of their transformation into modern missionaries on a special visit to St Ambrose College, Altrincham, Cheshire.

Neil Slattery and Matthew Biney were wasting their lives and causing untold suffering to others when they had a road-to-Damascus conversion.

Mr Slattery told the boys what it was like to be at the heart of an inner-city gang as a member of West Ham’s notorious ICF that featured in the film Green Street.

“The ICF wasn’t interested in football. They were just interested in fighting. I thought I had found my identity, but it wasn’t me at all and the more I got involved the more I drank and the more I used drugs. Then when I got physically ill and depressed I found out that I had no true friends in the gang. I had been completely deserted and that’s when I turned to God.”

American Matthew Biney had been using hard drugs, drinking and womanising, his life going nowhere as a bar tender in Dublin.

He, too, has now joined the St Patrick’s Community, with three other former lost souls who, under the patronage of the Catholic Church, now travel the length and breadth of the country visiting schools and telling young impressionable minds about the vital choices they face as teenagers.

Mr Biney said: “We all have a chance to make the right choice and whether you do it sooner or later, you must choose a path that seeks to serve others rather than harm others.”