Sometimes, when fortune and fame hits home, especially the one that comes with a highly successful international football career, it becomes a challenge keeping our values, beliefs and religion.
With an estimated two billion Christians in the world, you can expect there to be a large number of Christian football players in the world, right? Well, how many practicing Christians can you name, from the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and other international leagues?
Here is a list of top ten international footballers. These footballers have often time professed their allegiance to God either through their way of life, social media posts, or vows publicly made to God, and of course their goal celebration patterns.
Please note that this list is arranged based on a combination of the players’ public commitment to the Christian faith and their net worth.
10. Tim Howard
The United States international is a practicing Christian, who considers Jesus Christ most important in his life.
“The most important thing in my life is Christ. He’s more important to me than winning or losing or whether I’m playing or not. Everything else is just a bonus.”
He is also involved with Athletes in Action, a ministry arm of Campus Crusade for Christ.
9. Edison Cavani
The Uruguayan striker for several years has embraced the Christian faith and come to be part of that group of professional athletes in all discipline who share love for Jesus Christ and recognise him as the Lord and Saviour of their lives.
The official site of the Athletes of Christ explains, ‘These athletes have the responsibility to live a Christian life to the unanimous will of God in the world of sport’.
Cavani, who makes no secret of his faith decided to tell it all in a book he published titled ‘Quello che ho nel cuore. Vita, calico e fede, meaning ‘Series of Enlargements’.
8. Stephen Pienaar
A strong Christian upbringing helped the 30 year-old Ex- Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Spurs star, find Christ- “My Mum is a very committed Christian and was always on my case’’, he smiles. “No-one can force you to believe, though. I just listened at Church and everything made sense”.
And about the vest- “I wear the vest because God is truly great. He is on high. I believe he is with me and the angels are guiding me on the pitch and the vest is a way of acknowledging this”.
7. Daniel Sturridge
According to him; “That was important for me growing up. It’s part of my routine and I do it every day”. After winning the Barclays player award of the month, he said “I do all through Christ who strengthens me”.
6. Andre Iniesta
The 33 year old player is married with kids and is often known to not only talk about his religion but also travel for pilgrimages.
5. Javier Hernandez
His pre-match routine sees him kneel on the halfway line with his palms outstretched. Popularly known as ‘Chicarito’. The 29 year old footballer plays for both his country (Mexico) and also recently transferred to West Ham United.
He is a devoted Roman Catholic. Javier once speaking about his faith said;
“I like to ask God to take care of me because he gave me the opportunity to play. I talk to God and I let him take care of the health of both teams because the worst things for a sportsman are injuries and there are a lot of accidents on that pitch that nobody wants.”
4. David Luiz
He posted a message alongside the picture which read “I have chosen to wait’. Luiz said he will abstain from sex until he marries girlfriend Sara Madeira, according to Telegraph
He then added; “How wonderful to live with you Lord, thank you for loving me so much and taking care of me! My life is yours and I am your servant! You are always in the centre of all my decision. I love my God! Amen”.
3. Wayne Rooney
Rooney is an English football player, a Catholic, and appears to be quite religious. In the year 2002 he was seen wearing a rosary around his neck during practice and he was questioned by a reporter that what is it for-he replied – it’s my religion……”
The reporter stopped him saying “we don’t do religion here”. Luckily, Rooney who is an astute defender of the gospel replied saying “….. Right from my teenage I pray to God to win football games, now that I am an adult, I take my faith even more seriously…”
2. Thiago Silva
His life can easily be defined in C.S Lewis’s write up, ‘there are no ordinary people. Thiago Emiliano Da Silva is a skillful defensive back who always showcase his Christian faith before and after the game. His frequently seen praying and that’s an evidence.
Though born desperately poor he lived near a dangerous shantytown in the city of Rio de Jameiro, he was able to overcome these hardships and achieve great success in the eyes of the whole world.
He is a professional soccer player; winning many prizes in the history of world’s soccer he has also been named as one of the top players in Europe for three consecutive times. This lifestyle of his shows he is committed to his career and dependent on God for heavy support.
Ricardo Izecson popularly called ‘Kaka’ is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Orlando city and also Brazilian national team. Kaká is a devout evangelical Christian who was an active member of the São Paulo-based Rebirth in Christ Church.
He removed his jersey to reveal an “I Belong to Jesus” T-shirt and openly engaged in prayer moments after the final whistle. He also had the same phrase, along with “God Is Faithful,” stitched onto the tongues of his boots.
In goal celebrations, he usually points to the sky as a gesture of thanks to God. KAKA’s first encounter with God happened after a near-paralyzing swimming pool mishap, he gave his life to Christ and after a full recovery from the pool accident which can only be God.
Kaka and his wife met in 2002 and were married 3 years later in 2005 and unlike majority of athletes; they were both virgins on their wedding day.
Here is our list of the top ten international footballers. Do you feel there is a Christian footballer left out? Why not add it in the comment section.