Football is the world’s game, the beautiful game. Whether you call it football or soccer, it is the most egalitarian sport in the world, one that doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white, male or female, straight or gay or anywhere on the spectrum of these categories. So it should be of no surprise there are plenty of Muslim football players all over the world.
One’s personal beliefs have no effect on how one plays the game of football. Likewise, fans should never discriminate players based on his or her religious beliefs.
Without much ado, let us take a look at 10 footballers who you might not know were Muslim: (First let us take a look at the most famous Muslim footballers).
1. Mesut Ozil
One of the most well-known current active footballers on this list, Mesut Ozil is often seen bestowing his thanks to the Almighty on the football pitch. The German footballer recites from the Quran before his match.
2. Karim Benzema
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is another footballer who practices Islam. One of the biggest stars in Zidane’s team, Benzema is a devout Muslim who follows fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.
Now let us take a look at names which might surprise you:
3. Emmanuel Adebayor
One of the greatest African players of the last generation, Emmanuel Adebayor has had a successful career in various top clubs across Europe including Arsenal, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Currently playing for Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir, Adebayor converted to Islam as recently as July 2015. The former Tottenham striker is seen wearing white robes taking part in the Shahada, a ceremony in which one declares belief in ‘the oneness of Allah and acceptance of Muhammad as his prophet’.
4. Marouane Fellaini
The former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is a Muslim by birth. Born to Morrocan parents from Tangier and brought up in Brussels, Fellaini had successful spells at Standard Liege and Everton before securing a big money move to Premier League giants Manchester United.
He currently plies his trade in the Chinese Super League, Shandong Luneng Taishan.
5. Granit Xhaka
Arsenal and Switzerland midfield star Granit Xhaka is one of the three Muslim first-team stars (along with Ozil and Mustafi) at the North London side. Bought from German side Borussia Monchengladbach for a fee of around £35 million, the Swiss star has had a decent first season.
6. Edin Dzeko
One of the most underrated strikers in world football, Edin Dzeko has practised Islam since he was born. The Bosnian striker has been successful wherever he has played especially for Bundesliga club Wolfsburg, Premier League side Manchester City and his current side AS Roma.
7. Miralem Pjanic
Bought by Juventus as a replacement for Paul Pogba, 29-year-old Miralem Pjanic has quickly settled into his role as the chief playmaker in this very impressive Juventus side. Gifted with amazing technical ability, playmaking skills and tactical versatility, Pjanic is also exceptional at taking free-kicks.
Having moved to Luxembourg before the start of the Bosnian war, Pjanic quickly grew up to be one of the best ball-playing midfielders of this generation. Now representing Bosnia, Pjanic like his compatriot Dzeko is a Muslim from birth.
8. Paul Pogba
One of the most marketable footballers in the world, Paul Pogba is a devout and practising Muslim from birth. The Manchester United star made a world record transfer from Juventus and though he initially struggled to make an impact, he soon started showing his quality and became an integral part of Manchester United’s Europa League triumph.
Still only 26, Pogba is considered by many to be a future Ballon d’Or winner and his potential and talent is what led to United forking out the huge sum for the Frenchman. Born in Siene-et-Marne to Guinean parents, Paul Pogba along with his brothers Florentin and Mathias are Muslims.
9. Sadio Mane
One of the best signings of the 2016/17 season, Sadio Mane is a devout Muslim and a teetotaler. The Senegal man was one of the best players in the Premier League last season and Mane credited religion with playing a huge role in his success.
In fact, Mane’s father was even the Imam of a local mosque at his home country in Senegal. A true superstar in Africa, Mane is determined to give back to the region he came from and make it a better place.
10. Ayew Brothers
Ghana internationals Jordan and Andre Ayew are Muslims despite their names suggesting they belong to a different religion. The brothers, sons of African legend Abedi Pele, had their religious leanings out of public knowledge but made known to the public few years ago.
Both of their parents Abedi Ayew and Maha Ayew are Muslims and the two Swansea City loanees have shown great commitment to their Islamic faith.