Arsenal player reveals how his Muslim faith has helped his performance
One of Arsenal’s newest signings, Shkodran Mustafi, who signed for the north London club back in August, has talked about how his Muslim faith helps him perform to perfection on the pitch.
A t the back of the summer transfer window, the 24-year-old defender moved to the Emirates in a £35million transfer from Valencia.
Proving to be more than capable of filling in for the injured Per Mertesacker, Mustafi has impressed at the heart of the Gunners’ defence this term.
Mustafi’s form, he claims, is mostly thanks to his religion.
He said in an interview with Sport Bild: “Being a Muslim is very important to me, more important than anything, although sometimes travel makes it difficult for me to always pray when I want to.
“The Euros was a problem for me too, because it came in the middle of Ramadan and it would not have been possible to limit my food and fluid intake.
“But as an athlete I knew that I did not have to comply on that occasion.
“I study the Koran intensively but I also study other religions, too. But it is in the Koran that the prophets are closest to me — there and in the mosque when I go to pray.
“My religion means so much to me and to my career. It helps me so much.
“At the end of it all, I’m a person like any other who is on the Earth to strive for paradise.
“That is my main task. And if I play a c**p game, it’s not the end of the world.”
Last year at Valencia, Mustafi protested after he was instructed to hold a press conference with a beer bottle in front of him.
Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, but Mustafi was forced to speak to reporters with the bottle in clear view due to a sponsorship deal between Valencia CF and Estrella.
“I did win the battle in the end, you know,” Mustafi said. “I did not want people thinking I’m doing this for beer advertising.
“At the end, the bottle remained standing but the club and the brewery apologised to me because they understood that as a Muslim alcohol is not acceptable in any form.
“And the moral is that such beliefs are now respected in Valencia.”
Shkodran Mustafi fact file
Date of birth: 17th April 1992
Place of birth: Bad Hersfeld, Germany
Height: 184 cm
Nationality: Germany, Albania
Current club: Arsenal FC
Position: Defence – Centre Back
Signed for Arsenal: 30th August 2016
Contract until: 30th June 2021