The top 20 Christian footballers in recent memory are included on this list. The criteria for selection take into account both a candidate’s level of Christian commitment and their achievement in the field of sport. Not all devout Christian football players are featured here, nor are all successful Christian football players.
20. EDISON CAVANI – FORWARD, URUGUAY
The Uruguayan striker has become a Christian for a number of years and has joined the ranks of elite athletes from all sports who share a love for Jesus Christ and see him as their Lord and Savior. According to the Athletes of Christ’s official website, these athletes “have the obligation to live a Christian life in accordance with the universal will of God in the world of sport.” Cavani, who is open about his faith, made the decision to write about his human adventure in a book that he released for the Mondadori series of enlargements.
19. JAVIER HERNANDEZ – FORWARD, MEXICO
His pre-game ritual of kneeling on the midway line with his palms outstretched is much more than just a begging for some extra assistance. The diminutive Mexican player, 24, who went by the nickname “Little Pea,” debuted in the Premier League in 2010 and scored 20 goals as Manchester United won the 2010–11 season’s championship. He will be aiming to repeat his first season at Old Trafford after a challenging second season in which injuries and international calls ups limited his effectiveness despite scoring 12 goals.
Being a natural goal scorer, he has scored numerous goals for clubs and his country, but it is not his sole passion. “I like to pray,” he says. He kneels in the center circle before each game to pray, saying, “I like to beg God to take care of me, because he gave me the opportunity to play.” Hernandez, who recently accepted the position of Mexican Ambassador for UNICEF, prays for the safety of his teammates as well as the opposition. In this capacity, he will take part in various initiatives to encourage children and teenagers to continue their education.“I talk to God and I tell him to take care of the health of both teams because the worst thing for a sportsman are injuries and there are a lot of accidents on the pitch that nobody wants”.
18. THIAGO SILVA– DEFENDER, BRAZIL
Thiago Silva enjoys the opulent lifestyle of a soccer superstar while competing in Europe’s top divisions. He plays for the French champions, Paris Saint Germaine, and resides in Paris. Along with his exceptional defensive back skills, Thiago Silva’s strong Christian faith is seen both before and after games, when he is frequently spotted praying.There are no ordinary individuals, as C.S. Lewis famously said, and Thiago Silva is a prime example. Despite coming from a very impoverished family that lived close to a dangerous shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Thiago Silva was able to overcome these obstacles and become a worldwide success. Thiago Silva has achieved a lot as a professional soccer player, including being named as one of the top 11 players in Europe for three years running. But without the most remarkable gift of all, his mother and grandfather’s respect for Thiago’s God-given right to live, none of his professional accomplishments would have meant anything, I’m sureA report made by Globo TV Channel, the largest TV station in Brazil, revealed that Thiego’s mother, Angela, already had two children – a boy and a girl – when she became pregnant with Thiago. She was convinced she couldn’t afford to raise another child, and despite feeling terrible pain at the thought of aborting her baby, she was convinced she had no other option.“I was sitting on my father’s lap and I cried a lot. I didn’t want to have an abortion but I couldn’t bear another child,” she said. Angela’s father, however, convinced her not to abort the baby. “My father did not allow me to commit this sin,” recalled Angela.. . .and what an Priceless advice that turned out to be. Thiago has since turned out to be one of the greatest defenders the world has ever seen.
17. NEYMAR – FORWARD, BRAZIL
Even if he isn’t the most devout football player, he does a lot of proclaiming for someone who isn’t devout. He said: “I do not have any preference – the decision belongs to God” in response to the question of which European soccer team he would most like to play for. 2 Neymar is also furious with organizations that are unkind to Catholics, despite his belief that all religions should be treated with respect. I am no angel, but I accept all religions, Neymar said in reference to the Scottish soccer team Glasgow Rangers, who for a while prohibited Catholics from playing for them. However, many individuals in Scotland do not feel this way. Because rangers supporters despise everything Catholic, Scotland has problems.
For long years, Rangers refused to field Catholic players, and they [were] penalized by UEFA for racist chants. In football, racism has no place. 3
The most outspoken manifestation of his religion may have been when, after scoring a late goal to help Barcelona defeat Juventus in the champions league earlier this year, he tied a headband with the following message across his forehead:100% Jesus
16. WAYNE ROONEY – FORWARD, ENGLAND
Rooney, a Catholic, exudes a strong sense of devotion. When a reporter questioned him about the rosary he wore around his neck during practice during the 2010 World Cup, the footballer responded, “It’s my religion.” Then, a representative intervened and instructed Rooney to stop talking about the subject, claiming, “We don’t do religion.” 1
Rooney finally spoke to the media a few years later, which is fortunate for those of us who “practice religion.” In an interview, he claimed to have attended a Catholic school where his religious education lectures had made an impression on the nuns.
And while in those days, he mostly just prayed for his football club to win games, as an adult he takes his faith more seriously. He said,I pray to God, of course. I believe in God. . . . I don’t pray to help me score goals. I pray for the health of me and everyone on the pitch. It is something I have always done. I pray at night. I pray for my family and friends and for the health of everyone I love.
After Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to Stoke City last season, in the wee small hours of the Sabbath, Rooney tweeted the evangelical Christian channel God TV: “@godtv I’m watching and feel you. Much love.” It was quickly removed (not before a slew of jokes), as was another tweet sent last year to US preacher Todd Bentley, whose work Rooney described as “Very powerful and touching”.He doesn’t seem to be very forthcoming about his faith, but it is speculated that this is due to his brand managers having him cut down on his professions as it may not be very good for business.Rooney, an English Catholic with twice as many Twitter followers as Pope Francis, is under greater scrutiny than most. No doubt his advisors fear constant jokes about miracles and membership of the God Squad. But it’s not really fair to stifle a grown man. Let Rooney be Rooney.
15. JOHN BOSTOCK,
Former Crystal Palace and Spurs midfielder John Bostock is a proud Christian and has created a space for people of faith in the industry. Bostock founded Ballers in God, an organisation that unites Christian football players and professionals, allowing them to connect and fellowship.
14. MARCUS RASHFORD, MBE. FORWARD, MANCHESTER UNITED AND ENGLAND
England player Marcus Rashford MBE has been a champion for change in recent years. In addition to playing for England and Manchester United, Rashford campaigned throughout the pandemic to make sure vulnerable children didn’t go hungry while at home, his work led to him securing an MBE.
Speaking to the Guardian, Rashford mentioned his faith, he said: “Yeah, definitely. My mum is very religious. It’s not that we practise it all the time, but sometimes the faith we have in God is shown by the people that we are.
‘For me and my family, that’s definitely the case. If you could see our lives 15-20 years ago to where we are now, it’s impossible not to have faith in God and all he does for us.”
More than just a seasoned football player, Marcus Rashford is. He also stands up for the marginalized. He was a strong advocate for making sure kids got the school meals they needed throughout the pandemic. He holds an MBE now. In addition to becoming a best-selling author, he also wrote a book encouraging young people to follow their dreams. You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be is the title of the book.
Marcus added, “Sometimes the trust we have in God is revealed by the individuals that we are,” in an interview with The Guardian. That’s definitely the situation for my family and I.
It would be difficult to not have trust in God and everything He does for us if you could see our life from 15 to 20 years ago and where we are now.
Marcus has lately had some personal hardships (he and his partner split up during Lockdown after eight years together, despite having a child together), but it is obvious that he does have a strong foundational faith. In order to serve as a constant reminder of the significance of God in our life, no matter what obstacles we encounter, these words are inscribed across his chest:
Only God has the power to judge me. In order to appreciate presence, one must first experience sadness.God puts you on a path in life. I trust, believe and remember that all difficult roads I pass lead me to the most beautiful destination.”
13. ODION IGHALO
Nigerian footballer Odion Ighalo has had a hugely successful footballing career – he has played for Watford and most recently Manchester United. Last year, Ighalo tweeted on Easter and confirmed that he is a Christian. His tweet reads: “CHRIST is Risen! Hallelujah.”
12.DANIEL STURRIDGE – FORWARD, ENGLAND
According to Daniel Sturridge, he reads the Bible first thing in the morning. The Liverpool and England striker claimed that his parents’ encouragement to read the book on a Sunday is what made him fall in love with it. That was significant to him as a child, he said. I perform it every day as part of my regimen. Although they weren’t frequent churchgoers, the Birmingham family prayed a lot, he claimed. Sturridge, 25, who joined Liverpool two years ago, claimed that his parents were the reason for his success. He still attends Sunday dinners with his parents along with his brother and sister. It’s wonderful that my family is still intact, and I am thankful to God for that, he remarked.When he reached a half-century of top flight goals at the beginning of February, the striker tweeted: “Thanks to God for allowing me to score 50 premier goals.” And after winning a Barclays Player of the Month award back in September: “I do all through (sic) Christ who strengthens me.”Even though Danny Sturridge and Wayne Rooney are both obviously Christians, Wayne Rooney has frequently claimed that it is harder for him to publicly display his faith than it is for Danny. He did not provide any other explanation, thus the reason is remains a mystery. With injuries ruining his season, Daniel Sturridge is now going through a really difficult time, but we are confident that everything will get better soon.
11. CRISTIANO RONALDO – FORWARD, MANCHESTER UNITED AND PPORTUGAL
A Catholic, Ronaldo. He occasionally describes himself as being very devout and makes statements such, “I collect crucifix necklaces because of my bond with God.” I’ve always been gifted. I was taught the techniques, and I am an excellent football player, but I really believe God gave me the talent. He occasionally acknowledges that he is not the most devout football player, saying: “I am religious, in my own way, but not as much as Kaká, for example.” Therefore, I think I am at least marginally religious. Without a doubt, his family is religious. There are numerous rumors about Ronaldo’s deeply religious family being disappointed in him for choosing to have sole custody of his son, which they believe belongs to a mother and a father.Ronaldo has no tattoos on his body because once you get one, you won’t be able to donate blood for six months – a humanitarian practice he is constantly involved in
10. DAVID LUIZ – DEFENDER, BRAZIL
In an Instagram post last week that included a photo from his recent baptism, former Chelsea defender and international football star David Luiz made a promise to postpone having sex until after getting married. The vice-captain of the Brazil national team and Paris Saint-German player Luiz, 28, was baptized into Hillsong Church in the indoor swimming pool of teammate Maxwell. Along with the photo, he wrote a comment that said, “I have chosen to wait.” According to The Telegraph, Luiz declared he would forgo sexual activity until he weds his partner Sara Madeira. according to The Telegraph.He also included a verse from 1 Corinthians in his post.“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new,” he wrote.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! What’re [sic] always in the center of all my decisions. I love my God! Amen!”The Christian football player is linked to the Atletas de Cristo (Athletes of Christ) which is a nonprofit organization comprised of sportsmen and was started in Brazil back in 1984.He was famously used to drive to training at his old club Benfica in a van with a ‘Christ is Life’ sticker on it, then at Chelsea laid hands on team-mate Fernando Torres live on Sky TV. Torres went on to score twice in a 5-0 win.
9. EDERSON MORAES – MANCHESTER CITY AND BRAZIL
The most expensive goalkeeper in the world after being signed from Portuguese club Benfica, Ederson Moraes is not afraid to display his faith: he has a large image of a dove and the words “I belong to Jesus” tattooed across his chest
8. BUKAYO SAKA- ARSENAL AND ENGLAND
Bukayo Saka, an English national team player who was born in London of Nigerian parents, also plays for Arsenal. He has been quoted as saying on social media: “I grew up in a Christian family… this made me want to get to know God more and over the years, I have done so by reading my Bible a lot and going to church. When I play in important football matches, my faith is always put to the test.
Sport is one of the spheres of society where God calls His people to have influence. Think again if you believed He had no interest in or involvement in sports. Knowing that there are Christian football players in the game is uplifting.
7. RAHEEM STERLING- MANCHESTER CITY AND ENGLAND
Raheem Sterling, a player for Manchester City, was born in Jamaica and raised in Brent, a neighborhood close to Wembley Stadium, the site of the Euro Final. He said on social media that “the support and spirit from all the fans have been tremendous, both at Wembley and everyone watching at home.” Sunday, here we come!
As you may expect, well-known Christian football players need to use caution while speaking. Raheem declares that he is “Never in doubt” in a post on his social media accounts. This translates to “always in faith” in my opinion. On the other hand, Raheem’s beliefs are not left up to us to infer. Though he is sometimes asked if he is Muslim, due to his name, it has been reported in the media that Raheem is a Christian.
6. WILLIAM EKONG- DEFENDER, NIGERIA AND WATFORD
I remember the first time I prayed. As a 10-year-old boy living in a suburb of Amsterdam, I asked the Lord to make it possible for me to play football in England and as an international for Holland. Now I look back and laugh. Almost impossible right? Not with my Lord Jesus Christ.
I lost touch with the Lord, and although both things did manifest in my life a few years later (I signed for Tottenham Hotspur and represented Holland at U19 level) this was only the beginning, God had a lot more in store.
Fast forward fourteen years, and here I am realising God’s plan was far greater than I could imagine. I have now represented & captained Nigeria, won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, had the honour of playing at The 2018 World Cup in Russia and currently I’m playing in one of Europe’s top leagues.
After being told that I would never make it and that I should think of taking another career path the Lord has worked powerfully in my life, I’ve worked hard but He alone truly deserves the glory.
2 years ago I came into contact with Ballers In God. I had a vision in a dream and woke up with a strong desire to rekindle my relationship with Jesus Christ. Something was missing in my life.
My eyes where opened and I realised there is a far bigger purpose in my life than just being a Footballer. I know I have been blessed with a talent but learning how I can use it and all that comes with it to serve God has given me a fulfilling purpose.
– William Ekong
5. JONATHAN MENSAH- DEFENDER, BLACK STARS OF GHANA AND COLUMBUS CREW
According to Jonathan Mensah, whatever he is right now is built on God. He claimed that God is the source of His power and that He is dependant upon Him for survival. He didn’t comprehend the ideas of salvation and serving God as a child, but he can now firmly affirm his belief in God.Jonathan is known to be a devout Christian who reads Psalms before every game.
“Joshua 1: 8 ‘This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night and do what is written in it and you will be prosperous and successful.’
“I read this one actually before every game: Psalm 35: 1 ‘Contend O Lord with those who contend with me, fight against those who fight against me, take up shield and armour, arise and come to my aid.’ That is my secret weapon.”
He is friends with fellow Christian footballers Christian Atsu and Odion Ighalo.The 30-year-old defender came to the MLS following spells at a number of clubs in Europe (Spain, France and Russia) but received some criticism when he left to play in the US.
Jonathan Mensah is a founding member of Ballers in God, founded by England International, John Bostock.
The vision says that BIGCommunity exists to inspire and encourage fans around the world to put God first. This is a unique platform created by professional footballers that allows supporters to see how Ballers In God lead their lives and hear how God is making an impact through their journeys.
We realise that, as players, we have a huge opportunity to impact people with our platforms and reach others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our desire is to inspire football fans around the world, just like you, to trust God and live the life you were created for. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through or what you’re currently going through, we believe that God has so much in store for you.
4. LUCAS MOURA- MIDFIELDER, TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS AND BRAZIL
A STRONG FAITH IN JESUS
Lucas Moura is very open about his Christian faith. He says his football skills are “a talent God gave me”. “Not only do I believe that it is a great gift from God and I believe that if he gave me this talent, this gift it is because he wants to use me in this environment, in the midst of football, He wants to fulfil some purpose of him through football”, he said in an interview with website xtheline.co.uk.
His performances as a football star are important, but it is not the most important. “No doubt, every player wants to be remembered for everything he did in the field, for the performances, for the titles, I also want this. However, I also want to be remembered mainly by my example as a person, I want to be remembered as a man of God, a person with good attitude, I believe that is what matters most, the character, the good example of a person who helps people to find God. I want to be remembered for that”.
Moura became a committed follower Jesus Christ when he played in France with Paris Saint Germain (2013-2018). “My whole family are practically Catholic so was I until I left Brazil in 2013, where I also considered myself a Catholic, but I did not practice, I did not attend mass, I did not do anything that made me different really, nothing”.
But “after I arrived in France, I met people who came to work with me and in a very simple and very wise way they were showing me the Word of God, the Bible, showing me more about Jesus”, he told Cross The Line, a ministry focused on sports and faith.
“Coinciding with this at the time, I began to have difficulties, I was missing home, I was missing Brazil and it got me thinking a lot. I began to interest myself in what these people were saying to me and so I started to read the Bible and started to get the grasp God’s love for me. From there on, it was very fast and I began to understand the message and I fell in love with reading the Bible and I fell in love with the gospel of Christ”.
LIONEL MESSI- PSG, ARGENTINA
Professional footballer Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi plays forward for Ligue 1 team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and serves as captain of the Argentina national team. Leo’s family enjoyed playing football, and he and his two brothers frequently did so. Lionel Messi was influenced by his family’s views and practices as a Roman Catholic due to his birth in Argentina, a country with a high percentage of Catholics. The famous athlete’s level of devotion is unknown. He has, however, been observed forming the cross after scoring in a number of games, displaying his faith on a few occasions. Even the athlete’s body is covered with tattoos with religious themes.Professional footballer Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi plays forward for Ligue 1 team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and serves as captain of the Argentina national team. Leo’s family enjoyed playing football, and he and his two brothers frequently did so. Lionel Messi was influenced by his family’s views and practices as a Roman Catholic due to his birth in Argentina, a country with a high percentage of Catholics. The famous athlete’s level of devotion is unknown. He has, however, been observed forming the cross after scoring in a number of games, displaying his faith on a few occasions. Even the athlete’s body is covered with tattoos with religious themes. The La Liga champion has two tattoos revealing his Catholic faith—one of which is Jesus Christ with the crown of thorns on his upper right shoulder and a rosary on his forearm.
In 2013, Pope Francis was ordained to be the leader of the Catholic church. Messi mentioned on SI.com about Argentines taking pride in sharing the same motherland as the Pope, and that he would like to meet him someday as well.And just like an answered prayer–it came true! A few months after, he was granted a private audience with the Pontiff. We can tell that this was one significant event to him, with Leo capturing the moment and publishing it as his first Instagram post in August 14, 2013.n their conversations, Pope Francis asked Messi and the other soccer players to remember that on and off the field, they are role models “for better or worse.” Known for his sharp wit, Pope Francis also asked the players for their prayers for himself “on the playing field God put me on.”
When the Argentina National Team won 1-0 against Brazil in the 2021 Copa América finals, Leo was beyond grateful. He told CBS Sports that he felt like God was saving this moment (of beating Brazil, in Brazil) just for him.
And we understand why. 1993 was the last time the team brought home the trophy, so this win ended a dry spell of losses in the tournament. Not only did they make their home country proud–but they also gained more ground in qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It was also Messi’s first International Trophy.
2. TIM HOWARD- US GOALKEEPER AND EVERTON AND MANCHESTER
He played goal for the American national team and English club Everton. He is an American. Despite the U.S. national team’s defeat to Belgium in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he is regarded by many as a winner after making a World Cup record 16 saves.
He also participated in matches for Manchester United, the MetroStars, and the North Jersey Imperials. His first goal as a professional player came on January 4, 2012. He became just the fourth goalkeeper in Premier League history to score a goal. His group at Manchester United won the FA Community Shield in 2003 and the Football League Cup in 2005–2006.Personally, he was named Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year and Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year in 2001. He was also named the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Award in 2008, and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Goalkeeper of the Year Award in 2013.He discussed his struggle with Tourette’s Syndrome and how he came to believe in Jesus Christ in an article for Athletes in Action. He wrote: “I did not feel a lot of serenity having spent the first ten years of my life with an untreated case of Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological illness characterized by physical and verbal tics. But despite the fact that my life was frequently chaotic, I knew I could always rely on my grandma to bring me peace and stability. Because of her faith in the Lord, Nana’s sense of serenity was so potent. God showed me His love for me through her as well.
It didn’t take me long until I started walking in her shoes. I asked God for the same level of calm and faith that she possessed, and He granted it to me.
Living with Tourette’s is difficult, he continued. But God has also given me the talent for athletics. Through the combination of these two gifts, he has accomplished some significant things in my life. He has also taught me how to use my status as a professional athlete to inspire other people who suffer from Tourette’s syndrome.Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that’s the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding. You can experience this same sense of love and peace, too. All you have to do is ask for it.”
To say that Kaká is religious would be a grave understatement. His life revolves around God and Jesus and spreading the “good word.” I mean, he’s said his favorite book is the Bible and his favorite music is gospel. But that’s just the beginning.Kaká first really got into religion after a near-paralyzing swimming pool accident, from which he made a full recovery. Ever since the incident, he has fully given his life to God.As a young man, Kaká joined the now-controversial Reborn in Christ Evangelical Church. The organization has come under fire for fraudulent practices and building church roofs that collapse on people. But that hasn’t stopped Kaká from giving 10% of his considerable earnings to the church. Nor has it stopped him from outwardly expressing his faith every chance he gets.After every goal, Kaká raises his eyes and hands to thank God, and he thanks God for his talents, regularly saying things like:The Bible says God can give you more than you even ask for and that is what has happened in my life.6Perhaps his most famous statement was when his team, AC Milan, won a championship game and Kaká tore off his soccer jersey to reveal a t-shirt that read: “I Belong to Jesus.”7He can be more eloquent than that and as an Evangelical Christian, he feels the need to convert non-followers. He once said:To those who already have Jesus: you have made the best choice and are in the best team. Go ahead. Do not give up. The fight is great, but we can only win being on Jesus’ side. To those who have not yet surrendered their lives to Jesus: What are you doing being outside of this team?! Come to learn the Word of God, come to know who God really is.Kaka and his wife Caroline Celico met in 2002 in their native country of Brazil. Despite their six year age difference, faith brought them together. They married 3 years later in 2005. So far, very normal. However, unlike basically every athlete we have covered to date… they were both still virgins on their wedding day.
Both Kaka and Caroline are very religious and openly celebrate their Christian faith. In 2007, Kaka proudly announced that the couple had remained celibate until tying the note. Kaka told the Italian Vanity Fair:“The Bible teaches that true love waits until marriage. If our life today is so beautiful, I think it is because we waited.”