Soccer star Paul Pogba talks about his conversion to Islam

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba prays prior to a match.

Paul Pogba isn’t just one of the best soccer players in the world. He is one of the best athletes in the world across all sports.

While the 26-year-old has yet to build a collection of awards and accolades comparable to older soccer superstars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Pogba is just as talented as anyone in the sport — and he’s still early into the prime of his career.

Prior to joining Manchester United in England’s Premier League in 2016, Pogba was part of four championships clubs in Italy’s Serie A. He helped France win the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and he won the Golden Ball trophy as the best individual player of the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup (for players under 20 years old). Pogba was also voted the UEFA Europa League’s Player of the Season in 2017.

Pogba has just about everything that most people dream about. He’s young, athletic, rich and famous, and he is better at his job than 99 percent of his peers on the planet. Pogba has an overabundance of the things that most of us consider to be life’s blessings.

A lot of people with his level of fame, money and accomplishments would let those things go to their head. To be in Pogba’s position in life is probably a constant test of one’s humility and graciousness.

To watch Pogba on the soccer pitch is to watch a player who is tremendously confident in his ability and performs with a showman’s swagger. But that doesn’t mean he’s an arrogant person who does not appreciate what he has been given.

What appears to keep Pogba’s ego in check in his religion. He has been a practicing Muslim who converted to Islam after studying it for himself. His mother is Muslim, but Pogba was not raised as a Muslim. He did not embrace the religion until he was an adult.

Pogba talked about his path to Islam recently on the “LifeTimes” podcast:

“It came because I have a lot of friends who are Muslim. We always talk. I was questioning myself in a lot of things, then I started doing my own research,” he said. “I prayed once with my friends and I felt something different. I felt really good.”

“Since that day I just carried on,” Pogba added. “You have to pray five times a day, that’s one of the pillars of Islam. It’s something that you do. The meaning why you do it, you ask forgiveness and be thankful for everything you have, like my health and everything,” he added.

Pogba has been to Mecca at least twice for the Umrah pilgrimage, documenting his experiences on social media for his millions of followers. (He has 35.3 million followers on Instagram and 6.8 million on Twitter.)

Other highlights from the podcast …

On how Islam changed his life:

“(Islam) made me change, realize things in life. I guess, maybe, it makes me more peaceful inside. It was a good change in my life because I wasn’t born a Muslim, even if my mum was. I just grew up like that, respect for everyone.”

On Islam’s negative portrayal by some media outlets:

“What we hear in the media is really something else. It’s something beautiful.”

Personal growth within Islam:

“It’s really a religion that opened my mind and that makes me, maybe, a better person. You think more about the afterlife. This life has a test. Like when I’m with you, here. Even if you’re not a Muslim, you are a normal human. You have a human relationship and respect you for who you are, what religion you are, what color and everything.”

“Islam is just this – respect of humanity and everything.”

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