A former professional footballer who made 250 senior appearances, will take over as vicar at St Andrew's Church in Rushmere.

Alan Comfort, 58, played for QPR, working under Terry Venables, Cambridge, Leyton Orient and Middlesbrough during his time as a footballer before becoming a priest in the Church of England.

He recalled playing against Ipswich Town, and legend George Burley when they were reserves and in the first team.

He said: "I remember playing at Ipswich a few times.

Ipswich Star: Reverend Alan Comfort. Credit: Charlotte BondReverend Alan Comfort. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"I scored a goal, when I ran around 50 yards and just went straight past Burley and stuck it in the back of the net.

"I was only 15, maybe 16 at the time and I thought it was so easy.

"As life went on though, I realised it wasn't so easy and he never let me go past him again."

Mr Comfort is part of the Hall of Fame at Leyton Orient, making 150 appearances for the team, and scoring 46 league goals as a winger.

After leaving the sport, Mr Comfort spent 21 years as the club's chaplain before leaving in 2014.

Mr Comfort said: "For the first 19, nearly 20 years of my life I never went to church.

"I never knew anybody that went, it was a Christian-free zone for me.

"It was only when I transferred to Cambridge that I met a Christian."

Mr Comfort met Graham Daniels, who played for the team at the time, and is a current director at Cambridge.

Ipswich Star: Alan Comfort will take over at St Andrew's Church in Rushmere. Credit: Charlotte BondAlan Comfort will take over at St Andrew's Church in Rushmere. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Alan continued: "He was known as the Christian at the club, and there were very few Christians in football at the time.

"I didn't know what a Christian was, but I watched and listened to him and saw what it meant to him.

"He always seemed to be so vibrant and alive, and his teammates would laugh at him, as in any male environment at the time, and he just kept going.

"He knew that God had a plan for his life, and he knew God was with him and I found myself looking at him thinking, can this really be real?"

It was at that point that Mr Comfort wanted to go to church, so he drove around one Tuesday evening in Cambridge, looking for an open church.

Ipswich Star: Reverend Alan Comfort made 250 senior appearances in professional football. Credit: Charlotte BondReverend Alan Comfort made 250 senior appearances in professional football. Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

He found one, and went and sat down with a group of elderly women who were praying.

He said: "I thought, I really want to put my trust in God and Jesus.

"I thought it was really going to mess my life up because I knew that there were things that would change and I relationships I hoped wouldn't change.

"My parents for example wouldn't necessarily take it very well, which they didn't, and I knew other players would find it hard.

"I knew the manager would be difficult and he was, but I thought it was the best thing I could ever do and I have never looked back."

Mr Comfort is moving to Ipswich and taking over as the priest at St Andrew's Church in Rushmere on April 17.

Ipswich Star: Reverend Alan Comfort: Credit: Charlotte BondReverend Alan Comfort: Credit: Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

He said: "I am very excited to come here.

"We have lots of ideas and we come with a lot of enthusiasm.

"Chruch's struggle to connect to younger people in the ways that they can, and I think we have come with the knowledge that if you do the right things, it can open worlds up for people and it can be such a good thing.

"It's not for everybody, but it is a good thing, and if presented in the right way, we can find something really wonderful for everyone attending."