At this year’s Euro’s in France, there are many Muslim players participating. Below is a breakdown of the top 10 players taking part.
Club: Arsenal, England
Of Turkish descent, Mesut Ozil is an attacking midfield player that players for Arsenal. Born and raised in Germany, Ozil played for Werder Bremen before making a big money move in 2009 to Real Madrid. After winning both the La Liga and the Champions League, he made the move to London where he is now an integral part of the Arsenal team. Ozil recently completed a Hajj pilgrimage.
Club: Juventus, Italy
Samir Khedira is a dynamic box to box midfield player currently playing for Italian giants Juventus. Khedira’s father is of Tunisian descent and his mother Germany and he represents the country of his birth. He has had successful spells in Germany and Spain for Stuttgart and Real Madrid respectively and is now a starter for both Club and Country.
Club: Sevilla, Spain
At 6ft 3 inches, Adil Rami is a strong, commanding central defender playing at the heart of France’s defence alongside Arsenal’s Laurent Koscienly. He currently plays for Sevilla in the Spanish top division and comes into the tournament off the back of lifting the Europa League, defeating Liverpool in the final. Adil Rami’s career has taken him to some of Europe’s top clubs including Valencia and AC Milan. Rami is of Moroccan background.
Club: Manchester United, England
Marouane Fellaini, a commentators dream from being immediately identifiable with his distinct appearance is a midfield player currently with Manchester United. Due to his height (6ft 4 inches), Fellaini’s main asset is his aerial ability in both a defensive and attacking capacity. He started off his career with Belgian giants Standard Liege before making the move to England in 2008 to Everton. After David Moyes appointment at Manchester United, Fellaini followed his former Manager and is currently at the English team.
Club: Stoke City, England
Born in Gjilan, Kosovo in 1991 to Albanian parents, Xherdan Shaqiri moved with his family to Switzerland in 1992. He has represented his country over 50 times and currently plays for English team, Stoke City. Shaqiri is adept at using both feet, is quick and can generally play anywhere along the midfield in an attacking capacity. His career started off with FC Basel and remained at the club until the 2012 season before making a move across to German giants, Bayern Munich.
Club: Arsenal, England
Granit Xhaka is of Albanian descent and similarly to Swiss team mate Xherdan Shaqiri, moved to Switzerland with his family at a young age. Xhaka is a versatile midfield with a number of attributes. His rise has caught the attention of Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger who recently made a successful bid for the player of around £30-35m. Xhaka’s older brother, Taulant, also a full international, decided to play for his parent’s country of origin, Albania and the two players subsequently faced off in their group game of this year’s tournament, with Switzerland coming out on top.
Club: Barcelona, Spain
Arda Turan, one of the best players to come out of Turkish football, currently plays his domestic football for Barcelona. At only 27, he has amassed 90 appearances for his country. His previous clubs include Galatasary, in Turkey with who he captained to the league title at just 21 and Atletico Madrid in Spain also winning the league in 2014. He is Turkey’s captain and frontrunner.
Club: Liverpool, England
Position: Midfield / Defence
Emre Can has emerged as a regular for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp this season and his performances, particularly in Europe have been rewarded with a place in the German European squad. Can, of Turkish ethnicity, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, signing contracts with Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen at a very early age. He is known for his dynamism and versatility being comfortable playing with either foot and in defence / midfield.
Club: Tottenham Hotspur, England
Mousa Dembele is a Belgian international footballer of mixed, Malian and Belgian descent. His rise has been gradual starting in the Belgian pro league before moving to Holland with Willem II. After one season with the club, Dembele earned a move to AZ Alkmaar before coming to the Premier League with Fulham. His performances for Fulhams resulted in Totteham Hotspur making a £5m bid for the player in 2012 and he has since become an established play for the north London team.
Club: Juventus, Italy
Once voted the best under 21 player in Europe, Paul Pogba is one of the stars of the European Championships. He has helped his club side, Juventus, to 4 consecutive league titles and is linked to a high profile move back to Manchester United, the club who originally sold him. His parents are both Guniean, with both his brother’s also professional footballers in France and Scotland. Pogba is known in Europe as the Octopus because of his dangly legs when running.
This article is written by Ishfaq Shah