MUNICH – Contending for the best player in the world in 2013, Bayern Munich's French Muslim football player Bilal Franck Ribery has revealed that Islam has strengthened him, making him a more responsible player and family man.
"Religion is my personal thing. I am a believer and since I converted to Islam, I think, I became stronger, I became mentally and physically stronger,” Ribery told the World Bulletin on Saturday, October 26.
“Religion did not change my personality or my perception of the world," he emphasized.
The Bayern Munich midfielder is believed to have reverted to Islam in 2006 after marrying a Muslim woman of Moroccan origin.
Though he rarely speaks about his faith, Ribery recently told Le Paris Match magazine that he felt “safe” with Islam.
The 30-year-old Ribery was named the best player in Europe in the 2012/13 season last August, beating Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
He is among the top contenders along with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, to win the Ballon d’Or on January 13, 2014.
Achieving many trophies and championships, the World Cup title remains the biggest dream for the Muslim player.
"I have more experience now. I won the Champions League, and the World Cup remains for me. That is my dream," he says.
He has also praised the historic victory for Bosnia and Herzegovina after making it to the World Cup finals.
"BiH representation is determined and deserved to be placed in the World Cup."
There are nearly six million Muslims in France, the largest in Europe.
Offering a role model to youth, French Muslim football player Franck Ribery opened an alcohol-free bar that would serve fruit juices last year.
Called "O'Shahiz", the bar takes its name from Ribery’s two daughters Shahinez and Hizya.
Years after finding Islam, the world famous football player says he finds himself in making others happy.
"I am aware that life consists of small things. That is why I always stand when someone stops me on the street.
“I talk to many people. My mission is to make people happy."
Ribery expressed gratefulness to his father and to Wahiba Belhami, his wife of Algerian origin, who Ribery says is the reason why he converted to Islam. He added that his family taught him to respect people.
“My father worked a lot for us. He gave me the character of a winner, taught me to overcome difficult moments in life, and I had a lot of them. He taught me to stay 'on the ground' in every moment in life.
“That is why, today I try to enjoy in every moment, in every training, in every game. I want to make people happy, in the pitch and out of it.
“I worked in construction with my father to earn a living. I knew to play football when I was a child, and even that time I knew football will be more important than school for me. Actually, I was aware I can benefit from it.
“Though, I have not even dreamt that I can make such a big career. I was thinking I can play in the first or second league but I never thought I will be at the highest level. I had a great support from my father and wife and it helped me get here. Football gave me everything."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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