Arquimedes Nganga used to play for a third division side in his native Portugal, but quit football, aged 25, after he converted to the Baptist faith.

He claims he could have earned £20,000 a week, though he never made more than £200 a month playing semi-pofessionally.

Ngana, now living in Forest Hill, London has filed a suit at the high court, accusing the Baptist Union of Great Britain of destroying his social life, causing him “psychological harm’ and defrauding him of money through compulsory donations.

He said: “I could definitely have had a long career in the Premiership.

“I see many players playing today who I am not inferior to – and perhaps even better than. Most midfielders are either defensive or attacking but I was both. I had something new.”

The Baptist church said it would strenuously contest the claim.