A detailed list of footballers who have converted to Islam

A detailed list of footballers who have converted to Islam

Steve Njuguna
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:24 PM
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Emmanuel Adebayor logo
E. Adebayor
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ENG EFL Championship
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M. Salah
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P. Pogba
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Faith is an important part of every human being's life. Several prominent footballers have converted to Islam in the last few years. Join us today as we discover who they are and when they converted.

Today we talk about soccer players who converted to Islam.
Liverpool forward Mohammed Salah celebrates his goals with Sujood, the Islamic act of prostration. Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC
Source: Getty Images

Sometimes some people ask if it is haram for a Muslim to become a football player. Many prominent soccer players already come from Muslim backgrounds. Some prominent names include French international Ngolo Kante, former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, and Liverpool forward Mo Salah, among others. This list will focus on soccer players from other religious backgrounds who converted to Islam.

1. Clarence Seedorf

On the pitch, Clarence remains one of the greatest midfielders to play the game. He is the only man to win the UEFA Champions League trophy with three different teams. In 2022, Clarence announced to the world that he had become a Muslim after researching and learning about the faith through his wife, Sophia.

2. Franck Ribery

Ribery had a distinguished career in Europe, winning the UEFA men's player award in 2013 after a great time at Bayern. Ribery announced his conversion to Islam in 2002 after marrying his Algerian wife, Wahiba Belhami. In an interview, Ribery credited the Islamic faith with strengthening him physically and mentally.

At the time of Ribery's conversion, not many athletes had converted to Islam
Ribery prays before a game. Photo by Peter Kneffel
Source: Getty Images

3. Thomas Partey

The Arsenal and Ghana midfielder has been one of Europe's best defensive midfielders in the past few years. Thomas converted in 2022 and took up the Islamic name 'Yakubu'.

Partey is among the list of prominent footballers who changed their faith
Partey is the captain of the Ghana national team. Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA
Source: Getty Images

4. Paul Pogba

French star Pogba has played for big clubs like Juventus and Manchester United. The World cup winner converted to Islam early in his career and even went for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2017.

5. Nicholas Anelka

Anelka was one of the world's best strikers during his playing days. He converted to Islam when he turned 16 and took up the name Abdul Salim Bilal.

The French have many footballers who have converted to Islam.
Anelka and his teammate Ribery pray before a match in 2008. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP
Source: Getty Images

6. Emmanuel Adebayor

Togo's all-time top scorer had an accomplished career playing for big clubs like Arsenal and Real Madrid. He converted to Islam in 2016, citing similarities between Jesus Christ and Mohammed.

Adebayor is among the list of famous football players who converted to Islam.
Adebayor captained Togo throughout his playing career. Photo by Ian Walton
Source: Getty Images

7. Eric Abidal

Abidal was a long-time Barcelona and France captain during his playing career. He converted to Islam from catholicism in 2007 when he married his wife and took up the name Bilal Eric Abidal.

Abidal is a prominent football player convert to Islam.
Abidal has also worked in Barcelona's management. Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto
Source: Getty Images

8. Frederic Kanoute

Former Malian international Fredereid Kanoute converted in 1999 while still playing in France. In 2020, he raised over $1 million in funds to build the first mosque in 700 years in Seville.

Kanoute converted to Islam in 1999. He is among the prominent footballers that changed faith.
Kanoute attending a Sevilla game. Photo By Joaquin Corchero/Europa Press
Source: Getty Images

9. Danny Blum

Former Germany U20 international Danny Blum became a Muslim in 2014 after entering a mosque and feeling a sense of belonging. He plays in the second tier of German football with FC Nurnberg.

Danny Blum is a German footballer who converted to Islam.
Blum is an experienced Bundesliga player. Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images
Source: Getty Images

10. Nathan Ellington

Ellington is a former premier league striker who played for West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic. He became a Muslim in 2005 after marrying his Bosnian wife, Alma. In 2011 he formed the Association of Muslim Footballers to represent the interests of Muslim footballers. He is also key among footballers who have gone for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Faith is an individual choice every player makes, depending on their feelings. Many players who convert to different religions do it to fulfil their spiritual needs. That was our detailed list of footballers who converted to Islam.

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Steve Njuguna photo
Steve Njuguna
Steve Njuguna is a media professional with close to a decade of experience in the sports media industry. He has previously worked as a sports journalist with Bamba Sports TV, Vybez Radio and The Nairobian newspaper.