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I’m a former top footballer who was compared to George Best but I quit at 23 to become a Jehovah’s Witness

NOBODY expected Peter Knowles to actually go through with his decision to retire from football aged just 23 in 1969.

His club Wolves, for whom he was something of a rising star, kept laying out his kit each day – ready for his return.

PA:Empics Sport

Peter Knowles starred for Wolves in the 1960s[/caption]


Knowles gave up football to become a Jehovah’s Witness[/caption]


But he never came back.

Knowles had played four times for England‘s Under-23s and had even drawn comparisons with Manchester United legend George Best.

A trip to the United States to play games on loan at Kansas Spurs would change everything for Knowles, however, when two local Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on his door.

“At the time, I was an atheist. I didn’t believe in a God. I was happy to be a professional footballer, to play for Wolves,” Knowles said in 2018.


“I am not bragging here. But I loved it and I was good at it. One day, two Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door. I said to them: ‘Why did my dad and my two sisters, who’d done nowt wrong, die?’

“They came in and answered that question. They answered another question and then another I had never got an answer to.

“That’s how I became a Jehovah’s Witness. If I hadn’t met them I’d have carried on playing football.”

Upon his return to the UK Knowles went back to Wolves, but his heart was no longer in the beautiful game.




Knowles waves goodbye to the Molineux faithful[/caption]

PA:Empics Sport

The forward had scored more than 60 goals for Wolves by the age of 23[/caption]

He banged in three goals in his side’s opening four games of the 1969-70 season and even had a chance at making Sir Alf Ramsey’s Three Lions squad for the following summer’s World Cup.


But he abruptly called it quits, giving up football for good.

Everyone at Wolves thought he’d be back, and even kept contracts for him until he turned 36.

His brother Cyril, then a star of Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham side, also felt it was only a matter of time – but Knowles held firm.

Rather than return to football, he performed a variety of odd jobs; a milkman, a window cleaner, a tile salesman, an M&S warehouseman.


While it may seem an extreme career change for most, Knowles has no regrets.

My family couldn’t cope. My mum was upset, so angry

Peter Knowles


He continued: “Everybody – the manager, the players, my family, all the Wolves supporters – they all said, ‘He’ll be back in six months.’

“My family couldn’t cope. My mum was upset, so angry. My brother Cyril (who played for Spurs) said: ‘Give him six months.’ They couldn’t cope.

“Wolves put my strip out for about a year. Contracts were sent to me for ten years. They thought I’d sign it.

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve never regretted it. Not once.”


Knowles subsequently spent over 50 years preaching the word of God with wife Jean – and he has enjoyed every second.

“When I was younger I used to do all that, the nightlife, the cars. Well, I’ve done all that,” he added.

“Basically I work, preach, read the Bible and go to meetings – that’s my life. And I am dead chuffed with it.”

He scored 61 goals in 174 games in total for Wolves – before becoming one of English football’s great “What if?” stories.

Knowles married wife Jean in 1967
Rex Features

September 13, 2023 at 05:22PM

from The Sun

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