Soccer players are drawn from various backgrounds and faiths, so it’s no surprise that you will find quite a large number who profess the Islamic faith. Many Muslim players have distinguished themselves on the football pitch, dropping excellent performances and winning laurels. Here are the 11 best Muslim players of all time.
1. Zinedine Zidane
Zidane is not just one of the best Muslim players of all time, but one of the greatest football players ever. The French legend is a Muslim of Algerian Kabyle descent. His parents, Smaïl and Malika, emigrated to Paris from the village of Aguemoune in the Berber-speaking region of Kabylie in northern Algeria in 1953 before the start of the Algerian War. Zidane is a World Cup winner, UEFA Champions League winner, and three-time Ballon d’Or, winner. He retired from football to become one of the best coaches in world football.
2. Paul Pogba
Recognizable by his flashy dress sense and stylish hairstyles not many people know that the French World Cup winner, apart from being a skillful midfielder is a devout Muslim who takes his faith very seriously. On occasion, videos have emerged of Pogba performing the Hajj to Mecca. Paul is also known not to drink alcohol, to the extent that he will not be pictured near any bottle containing alcoholic beverages. We saw this in the 2020 Euros when during a press conference he removed beer bottles of the title sponsor.
3. N’Golo Kanté
N’Golo Kanté was born in Paris to Malian parents who migrated to France from Mali. The French midfielder is of the greatest defensive midfielders in football. N’Golo Kanté has won the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, Premier League, and UEFA Nations League titles. He also won individual awards such as the PFA Player, French Player of the Year, and FWA Footballer of the Year.
4. Mesut Ozil
The German king of assists is very much in tune with his Muslim faith passed on to him through his Turkish immigrant parents. Ozil is never shy to express his beliefs whenever he is on the football pitch, always pictured saying a silent prayer before the commencement of the match. Mesut also supports causes and charities that affect Muslim faithful worldwide.
5. Karim Benzema
Karim Mostafa Benzema is one of the most popular Muslim players in Europe. He currently plays a striker for Spanish club Real Madrid and the France national team. He has had a successful career and is one of the best strikers in the world right now. Benzema has won 3 Champions League titles with Real Madrid. He is a practicing Muslim and observes fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
6. Riyad Mahrez
The Algerian superstar is currently one of the best wingers in the game. Mahrez is known for his dribbling skills and goal-scoring ability, which stands him out in the modern game. Riyad is another player who isn’t shy to express his faith. Sometimes he has been shown kneeling and bowing down in supplication after scoring a goal.
7. Yaya Touré
The former Ivorian footballer is often regarded as one of the greatest African football legends. Yaya Touré is a devout Muslim. He clinched the African cup of Nations (AFCON) title for Ivory Coast in 2015 after failing as runner-up in two previous editions. He played for La Liga side FC Barcelona and Premier League team Manchester City before he retired.
8. Mohamed Salah
The Liverpool FC and Egypt forward is probably the greatest Muslim football player ever. His goal-scoring exploits and breathtaking skills have made him one of the most famous players ever. Salah is always keen to express his faith anytime he gets the chance on the field of play. At times, he can be spotted mouthing a silent prayer or kneeling down in thanks and prayer whenever he scores a goal. Salah is also one of the greatest Egyptian footballers of all time.
9. Sadio Mane
The Senegalese international is one of the best wingers in the world right now. Mane is known for his direct powerful running and efficiency in front of goal. Sadio is another one of numerous Muslim players who love showing their faith on the soccer pitch, especially after scoring a goal. He recently won the 2021 AFCON with Senegal.
10. Franck Ribery
The Algeria-born former French international has never hidden his beliefs and has always been keen to express them whenever he has been interviewed. Nonetheless, Ribery was one the greatest ever wingers in football. He was instrumental as Bayern Munich won the UEFA Champions League in 2013. Franck Ribery is yet to retire.
11. Ali Daei
Ali Daei is regarded as one of the greatest Asian footballers of all time. The former Iranian footballer was a prolific goalscorer in his playing days, and held the world’s top international goalscorer with 109 goals, until his record was broken by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021. He is a devout Muslim, and a very religious person. During his time at Bayern Munich, he refused to hold a glass of beer for an Erdinger advertisement because alcoholic beverages are prohibited in Islam. Daei is undoubtedly one of the best Muslim footballers of all time.
12. Mohamed Aboutrika
The former mercurial Egyptian midfielder is a strong advocate of his Muslim faith. He cited his Islamic beliefs as his motivation for his humanitarian efforts. Aboutrike has strongly expressed is opinions on matters concerning his beliefs. However, he is also one of the underrated African footballers of all time. He won the AFCON, CAF Champions League, and Egyptian Premier League titles on multiple occasions.