In the English Premier League, you’ll find a host of superstars who are more likely to be at prayer after a match than in the pub chasing a few liquid moments of celebration.
It’s a tribute to England’s diverse culture that its citizens don’t often notice in day-to-day life. After all, what’s the point of being cosmopolitan if you have to flaunt it?
Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to see these top players in the English Premier League who are Muslim.
15. Marouane Fellaini, Manchester Untied
Something of a controversial figure, Marouane Fellaini has been playing for Manchester United ever since he was brought on by David Moyes. He was something of a panic buy and his start was rocky, but now the Belgian is becoming a fan favourite even if he’s still not starting every match.
14. Asmir Begovic, Chelsea
Asmir’s a Bosnian national and while many players who don’t start regularly may be considered low quality – being Chelsea’s second string goalkeeper is anything but low quality. He must occasionally wish that Thibaut Courtois would take a day off though, so that he could get his chance to shine in front of the fans.
13. Yaya Toure, Manchester City
Yaya Toure hails from Africa’s Ivory Coast which is a firmly Muslim country. He moved to Manchester City from the Spanish side Barcelona in 2010. He quickly established himself as a player who can really boss the midfield and while in recent years he’s slowed down a bit – he was once a powerhouse.
12. Mamadou Sakho, Liverpool
Mamadou Sakhou was a regular starter for Liverpool following his signing from Paris Saint-Germain. But he’s been a bit off color in recent months and new boss Jurgen Klopp doesn’t seem to have him at the forefront of his plans for a new attacking Liverpool this year.
11. Emre Can, Liverpool
Another Liverpool player, Emre Can arrived in a fanfare of fan delight in 2014 when he moved out of the German club Bayer Leverkusen to England. Unfortunately, much like Mamadou Sakhou – he’s not turned out to be a top pick for Jurgen Klopp, but he may turn things around yet.
10. Ahmed Musa, Leicester City
Leicester City pulled off a miracle in 2016 with a Premiership victory. It seems unlikely they’re going to repeat that feat but it’s not for the lack of trying from Ahmed Musa who moved from CSKA Moscow to shore up their goal scoring abilities. His efforts on the pitch are excellent.
9. Ibrahim Afellay, Stoke City
Not the most internationally appealing of teams, the Potters – Stoke City – are one of the Premiership’s perennial mid-table clubs. Ibrahim Afellay is, however, a Dutch International player and used to play for Barcelona. He’s very useful to have on the football pitch, as they say in Stoke.
8. Adnan Januzaj, Manchester United/Sunderland
Possibly surplus to requirements at Manchester United or just being given an opportunity to shine, Januzaj is currently on loan with one of the bottom clubs in the league, Sunderland. He’ll know manager David Moyes from when he too worked at Manchester United and will be a key part of his plans to avoid relegation.
7. Moussa Dembele, Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs are keeping hold of Moussa Dembele and he’s happy to stay. He was playing for another London club, Fulham, before he signed up with Tottenham. He’s a very handy midfield player and can really shape a game. He also has more than 60 caps for his home nation of Belgium.
6. Moussa Sissoko, Tottenham Hotspur
Moussa Sissoko is expected to play a very important role for Tottenham Hotspur as they press to qualify for European football this year. They may yet prove to be surprise title contenders, though Chelsea is a long way out in front. He’s been capped for France more than 50 times too.
5. Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal
The Gunners faltered a little in their title challenge once again over the Christmas break, but it’s not down to Mohamed Elneny. He arrived a year ago from FC Basel and the Egyptian International is considered to be a lynchpin for the London-based side. He’s a quality signing.
4. Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Riyad Mahrez played like he’d been blessed by Allah himself last year. His spectacular handling of the midfield role at Leicester City was instrumental in bringing them the Premiership title. Many considered him to be the best footballer of the year in 2016. This year isn’t quite so spectacular so far, sadly.
3. Shkodran Mustafi, Arsenal
You don’t sign for Arsenal unless you’re something special and Shkodran Mustafi was brought in from Valencia, a top quality club in its own right. He’s not yet providing the best service out on pitch, but he is a recent arrival and new players often tend to need a little bedding in to get the best out of them in the Premier Lague.
2. N’Golo Kante, Chelsea
The French defensive midfielder picked up a Premier League trophy with Leicester last season and appears to be on track to do the same again with his new club Chelsea. Watching him play is genuinely thrilling each and every time, he can boss other players both on and off the ball.
1. Paul Pogba, Manchester United
It’s hard to say that the most expensive signing in the history of football is anything other than amazing. He’s had a few teething problems while settling back into the club he left only four years before but now he’s firing on all cylinders and his manager is ecstatic.
Religion doesn’t really play a part in sport. It’s not something that many of us give so much as a second thought to when we’re enjoying watching our club thrash another side.
But maybe we should? These footballers are all Muslims who lead upstanding lives on and off the pitch. They inspire thousands of children and adults every weekend.
So next time when somebody’s asking what it is it that Muslims contribute to society? It might be worth pointing out that Muslims are everywhere, doing jobs that everyone else does without making a fuss about their faith at all.