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Euro 2020 Christian Footballers XI

Author: Andy Drozdziak, CCR Web Editor

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Euro 2020 Christian Footballers XI

Andy Drozdziak selects his Euro 2020 fantasy team of Christian footballers.

Euro 2020 is sure to be an occasion where players show their faith. It is now a common sight for players to cross themselves, point to the sky in thanksgiving or to even kneel in prayer. There are an increasing number of players, like Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, who are speaking out against injustices like racism and poverty, inspired by their faith in Christ.

Many players who take part in the tournament are openly Christian, inspired by the words of St Paul: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe" (Romans 1:16). Below is a team of Christians who are not ashamed to proclaim Jesus as Lord of their lives, both on and off the pitch.

 

Goalkeeper

Manuel Neuer – The German goalkeeper is a devout Catholic whose faith has inspired him to start the Manuel Neuer Kids Foundation, helping underprivileged children in the Ruhr region. He said it was "very special" to meet Pope Francis after a Bayern Munich game in Rome, presenting the pontiff with an autographed Bayern top.

 

Defence

Patrick Van Aanholt – Crystal Palace's Dutch international defender Van Aanholt spoke out against Katie Hopkins after the controversial celebrity posted hateful content on Twitter. Van Aanholt protested against the content, identifying himself as a Christian. His efforts paid off when Hopkins was banned from Twitter.

 

 

 Dejan Lovren – The Croatia defender has a tattoo on his arm, depicting a nail about to be driven into a hand, with the word 'Jesus' written in Hebrew. He also expresses his faith on Twitter, praying that Orthodox friends will be blessed by "the Lord with peace love and joy" and saying that "God has blessed me with a wonderful family and friends."

 

 

David Alaba – The Real Madrid and Austria defender is a committed Christian who uses his social media profile and his footwear to share the Gospel. His motto "meine Kraft liegt in Jesus", meaning "my strength lies in Jesus", is written on his boots. It is also displayed on his social media platforms and he wore a t-shirt bearing the slogan after he won the Champions League with former club Bayern Munich in 2020.

 

Midfield/Wingers

Mateo Kovacic – When Croatia lost to France in the 2018 World Cup Final, Kovacic dedicated his silver medal to St Anthony. He also wore a banner of the saint as he received his medal. He chose St. Anthony because it is the name of his home parish in Croatia, where he used to serve on the altar. He has also said that he prays for strength before games. "I'm Catholic, I'm not ashamed to say so," he said.

 

Luka Modric – Another devout Catholic in the Croatia team. Real Madrid midfielder Modric had a difficult childhood during the Balkan wars, and is grateful to God for his career. He has been seen kissing his shinpads during matches, which contain images of Jesus and Modric's family.

 

 

Antoine Griezmann is a committed Christian and shares his faith through his extensive selection of tattoos. With two images of Jesus on his right arm, as well as an image of rosary beads, the French star is proud to display his faith.

 

 

 

Marcus Rashford is passionate about supporting the weak and forgotten of society, shown by his campaigns to feed children, end child poverty and give children greater access to books. According to England striker Rashford, this is how he expresses his faith. "The faith we have in God is shown by the people that we are," he said. "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." 

Strikers

Robert Lewandowski is a practising Catholic. The Polish striker met Pope Francis after Bayern Munich beat AS Roma 7-1 in a Champions League fixture in 2014. He has publically professed his faith. "I'm a Catholic. I'm not ashamed of Jesus or my faith," he said. "I know that God is watching over me all the time."

 

 

Romelu Lukaku-The Belgium striker has been on pilgrimage to Lourdes and, according to his father, prays many times a day.  Many were moved when he fell to his knees in prayer, along with Panama player Fidel Escobar, at the end of the Belgium v Panama game in the 2018 World Cup.

 

 

Olivier Giroud-The French forward attends Holy Trinity, Brompton, the church led by Alpha founder Nicky Gumbel. The Chelsea striker has been seen wearing a t-shirt under his official kit with the slogan "Choose Jesus, eternal life." He has also shared his positive experience of attending the Alpha course, and encourages others to attend, as seen in this video:

 

Coach

Fernando Santos-The Portugal coach led his national team to triumph in 2016, and was quick to thank God for helping him and his team secure an unlikely victory against hosts France. "First of all, I would like to thank God the Father for this moment," he said. He then went on to thank his family for their support, before returning to his faith and dedicating the Euro 2016 title to Jesus and Mary. "Lastly, but most importantly, I want to speak to my best friend, and His mother, to dedicate this victory to Him and thank Him for having chosen me...For having given me the gifts of wisdom, humility and perseverance to guide this team, and for having guided me and lit my way."  Santos also made a pilgrimage to Fatima after the victory.

What do you think? Is this a team which could change the world for Jesus? Would it beat John Mckenna's Euro 2016 XI? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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