Xavier, former Galatasaray footballer: I rediscovered myself thanks to Islam

Abel Xavier, one of the former Galatasaray and Portugal national team players, says his days in Istanbul completely changed his outlook on Islam and had a big influence on his conversion to Islam.

In his statement, Xavier said his transfer to Galatasaray and his life in Turkey during the 2002-2003 season was a blessing for him to encounter Islam, and said:

“There is a large Muslim population in northern Mozambique, where I was born, but there were also Catholic Christians in my family. I was also Catholic. I also knew Islam, but knowing some things is not enough not, sometimes you have to live. My luck is to be transferred to Galatasaray, Turkey. Playing football in Turkey completely changed my view of Islam. I got to know Islam better in Istanbul. After I quit football, I announced that I have become a Muslim at a press conference. When you play football, you don’t say too many things, just football to focus on the game. The important thing in the life is to live in peace and quiet.


Stating that hearing the call to prayer five times a day in Istanbul gives him peace, the Portuguese footballer said: “I don’t fully understand the words because the prayer is in Arabic, but I find myself very relaxed and peaceful listening to the call to prayer. It relaxes me. Even though I don’t understand the language, his tone relaxes me a lot. I have found peace and freedom in Islam.” used the sentences.

Saying he has lived in many different countries and broadened his horizons through football, Abel Xavier said: “I call my conversion to Islam a rediscovery. Thanks to Islam, I rediscovered myself. Sharing is important to me, Islam is sharing. religion. After football, I stayed in the United Arab Emirates for a very long time. “I have very close friends from the Emir family. I spent a lot of time with them, I shared a lot. The most important thing for a person is to feel comfortable and free while living their religion. I found that with Islam. In fact, I am still the same person, but thanks to Islam, to the world, my outlook on things has become different and better. That is why I call this situation a reinvention of myself.” he said.

Expressing that he received no backlash in Portugal for choosing Islam, Xavier said:

“Portugal is a very multicultural country that opens its doors to everyone. I received no reaction when I announced that I was a Muslim. They criticized me a lot when I dyed my hair blond , not when I converted to Islam in Portugal. Even today, people know me by the color of my hair. But I have been criticized for it in the past. EURO halftime 2000 “After catching the ball from Wiltord in extra time in the final match, we lost the match with a penalty goal from Zidane. At that time, I was criticized for my appearance, highlighting the color of my hair. But what matters to me is not what people think, but how happy I am.”


“I could pass for a very crazy person, but I’ve never had any crazy movement on the pitch.” The former Portuguese footballer said:

“If you talk to the coaches I’ve worked with, they all say, ‘Abel Xavier is a hard worker, he’s a great professional. I never stopped playing professionally. Even if I sometimes played badly, I always did my best. The biggest thing you can call a craze is that I dyed my hair blonde. I was the first African footballer to dye my hair blond. broke a taboo. Because at the time it was not welcome among Africans. It was madness. You can name it, but you shouldn’t judge a person by the clothes they wear or the color of their hair. What’s in the head matters. . That’s how I look at everyone. Now contracts are made with footballers for sports and image rights. Footballers also earn money through their image rights. I have an image that no one had 22 years ago. but I couldn’t make the money. (Laugh)”


Abel Xavier, who recently declared himself the coach of the Mozambique national team, said one of his biggest goals is to coach at Galatasaray.

Xavier, who said he took a break from training to spend time with his family during the outbreak but has started negotiations to return to football, said: “When you look at my career, I’ve also played in very important teams like PSV, Galatasaray, Benfica, Roma, Liverpool. I want to pass on these experiences as a coach. To work in Turkey. “One of my biggest wishes. I would like to coach Galatasaray. Portuguese coaches coached Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş, I hope I will also coach Galatasaray.” gave his appreciation.

Highlighting that he has a very different connection with Galatasaray fans, the Portuguese footballer said: “People were very sincere and very friendly towards me. That’s one of the reasons that affected me. They didn’t didn’t approach as a simple player, they loved me very much. This pure love that I saw impressed me a lot. That’s why I say “Turkey is my second home”. I guarantee you that one day I will definitely return to my second home.” he said.


“Passion is what I cannot forget the most at Galatasaray.” Using his words, Abel Xavier said:

“When I played at Liverpool, Galatasaray was also in our Champions League group. It was a very difficult group, with Barcelona and Roma. We played the game at Ali Sami Yen, the old stadium of Galatasaray. During the warm-up, I saw the “Welcome to Hell” banner in the stands. Very impressive. and it was overwhelming. The fans were very hot. We started the game, the score was 0-0 at half-time. When I put a towel over my head, I said to myself, ‘I hope one day I will also play for Galatasaray.’ The voices of the fans and the support they gave was incredible. I said. My wish to play Galatasaray came true a year later. Fatih Terim wanted Rui Costa, with whom he had previously worked in Milan and in Fiorentina, and me. I came on loan from Liverpool. I can’t forget the enthusiastic reception at Ataturk’s airport and at the Fenerbahçe derby.”


Emphasizing that he never wanted to leave Galatasaray, Xavier said:

“I was very happy at Galatasaray. I told Fatih that I wanted to stay, I had arranged everything with Liverpool. I was going to play at Galatasaray for another 3 years, I wanted to finish my career at Galatasaray. But the teacher of Fatih, who left Barcelona without testimony at that time, told me. He chose Boer. I couldn’t continue. We had a very sincere and good relationship with Fatih Terim. Galatasaray was experiencing economic difficulties. Fatih Hoca said to me, “Abel, if they leave your testimony from your teacher in Liverpool, Houllier, I would like to see you here. “Fatih Terim saw me as one of the leaders of the team. We had an amazing relationship, but that’s football. I wanted so badly to finish my career at Galatasaray but it didn’t happen. It’s a sadness that I still have inside. I came back to England and then I started my career in MLS with David Beckham. “I’m done with that.”


Underlining that Fatih Terim is a very important name not only for Galatasaray but also for Turkish football, the former Portuguese footballer said: “Fatih Terim is an important figure on the international scene with his charisma, his history and his achievements for the Turkish soccer. their paths diverged, but in the future he will be coached again.” He can come back as Fatih Terim and even become president of Galatasaray. He will always be in football. I have a lot of respect for him , I hope we can meet He also texted me when I left Galatasaray gave his appreciation.

Stating that there were very good players in the team when he played at Galatasaray, Xavier said: “There was a very high level goalkeeper like Mondragon. There were very good names like captain Bülent Korkmaz , Ergün, Hasan Şaş. We were a very good team, there were too many top players. Most of the players. “They were the players Fatih Terim was with when he won the UEFA Cup. I think the problem was that at that time, some status players’ time was passing, they were losing their old strength as they got older. However, the transition between young and experienced players was not very well established. used the sentences.

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