Which Football Players Are Muslim?

Safiya Rahman

August 29, 2023
Muslim footballers representing Islam globally

From the 2022 Qatar World Cup all the way back to the first kick of a ball in 1880, football is a global phenomenon which has united more people than any other sport.

From race to culture to religion, on the fields and on the sidelines, football has contributed to social movements and is the source of entertainment for billions, not millions, of people worldwide.

Given the diversity of the sport, it's no doubt that there are players of many different faiths. We'll be exploring in this article the top Muslim football players in the world, how they've excelled both on the field and off, and how they have spoken about their Islamic faith.

Is Mesut Özil Muslim?

Mesut Özil from Turkey is open about his religion

This talented German attacking midfielder is originally of Turkish descent and speaks quite openly about his faith. Özil is often seen praying before games, making dua on pitch, and after scoring goals, and has spoken about how Islam plays a crucial role in his life. Known for his vision and creativity on the field, he's also admired for his humility and charity off it.

Is Paul Pogba Muslim?

French footballer Paul Pogba and family holding the FIFA World Cup Trophy after the tournament's final match on 15 July 2018.

A key player for Manchester United and the French national team, Pogba publicly converted to Islam in 2019. He often celebrates his goals with a gesture of thanks - sujud (prostration) - which is a key part of the daily Muslim prayer.

Is Mohamed Salah Muslim?

Mohamed Salah is a practicing Muslim and plays for Egypt

Known as the "Egyptian King" by fans, Salah is one of the most prominent Muslim footballers in the world. Salah is a regular on the Liverpool team and also plays for his national team Egypt. We often see Salah celebrate his goals with sujud, and his positive image has had a significant impact in mitigating Islamophobia, particularly in the UK. Mo Salah's wife also wears hijab.

Is Sadio Mané Muslim?

Sadio Mane says his faith is his very being as a Muslim

Another Liverpool team member, Sadio Mané, is a practicing Muslim. Sadio comes from Senegal and is known for his speed and skill and is often seen making dua before the start of a game. Sadio has said in an interview with the Daily Star, "Naturally I'm a Muslim. Faith is my very being". Sadio revealed to Sports Illustrated how Liverpool changed their training because some players were fasting during the month of Ramadan.

Is Franck Ribéry Muslim?

The Bayern star Franck Ribery has found peace in Islam

Franck Ribery's religion is often discussed in the Muslim football world. The French footballer, best known for his time at Bayern Munich, converted to Islam from Christianity in 2002 after marrying his Algerian wife, Wahiba, who was also his childhood sweetheart. Ribéry, who changed his name to Bilal Yusuf Mohammed post conversion, has been open about the peace he found in Islam. Ribery was annoyed in 2013 after being drenched in beer following Bayern's title celebrations and even has a shisha bar which only serves non-alcoholic drinks.

Is N'Golo Kanté Muslim?

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante lives a lowkey lifestyle as a Muslim

The heart of Chelsea's and France's midfield, and known as a power workhorse, Kanté is known for his humility and work ethic. He attributes his humble nature to his Muslim religion. Kanté is one of the few footballers who lead a lowkey lifestyle, with no flashy supercars or party attendances. He was born in Paris to Malian parents and says that his religion always comes before football.

Is Karim Benzema Muslim?

Karim Benzema comes from a Muslim family and attributes his focus to his Islamic faith

Benzema is one of the most famous footballers on the player and comes from an Algerian Muslim family. He is one of Real Madrid's top goal scorers but also scores off the pitch with visits to Makkah and religious content found on his social media pages. In 2023, Karim Benzema said that "my faith helps me to be focused every day. It brings me benefits and it's my strength for me."

Is Riyad Mahrez Muslim?

Riyad has already visited Mecca to perform Umrah as a Muslim

Riyaz Mahrez religion is that of a practising Muslim. He made sure to cement this with his model partner Taylor with an Islamic Nikkah ceremony, and also visited Mecca in 2017 to perform Umrah. Riyad was born in Paris to an Algerian father and an Algerian-Moroccan mother. He serves as the captain for Morocco.

Is Ousmane Dembélé Muslim?

Ousmane Dembele from Senegal is a committed Muslim and is open about his religion

Dembele is originally from Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. He's a devout Muslim and always posts religious festivities on his social media. In December 2021 Ousmane married a Moroccan Muslim woman but the marriage itself was private and not shared online. Ousmane regularly expressed Eid wishes to all his Muslim followers every year.

Is Hakim Ziyech Muslim?

Hakim Ziyech comes from a Muslim family and practices Islam on a daily basis

Hakim Ziyech was raised in an Islamic household and has double nationality; Dutch and Morocco. Ziyech plays for the Moroccan national team and regularly posts images of his mother who wears a traditional headscarf. Ziyech's religion is that of a practising Muslim.

These are just ten of hundreds of professional football players who are practicing Muslims and engage in the Islamic faith. However, Islam promotes peace and tranquility amongst all faiths and it's thanks to these footballers that we can share moments with colleagues and friends who might have different religious beliefs.

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