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EURO 2020: Muslim Stars to Watch

Postponed from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UEFA Euro 2020 kicks off on Friday, June 11, in Rome.

The knockout phase starts on June 26 with the final taking place on July 11 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

For the first time in the tournament’s history, the games will be taking place across the continent with 11 host cities in all: London, Saint Petersburg, Baku, Munich, Rome, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Seville.

With all eyes now set on the Europe’s top 24 teams, many people will be focusing on dozens of Muslim players who have been listed to take part in this summer’s international games.

Here follows some of the world’s finest Muslim players participating in the international tournament.

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Emre Can

Emre Can

Emre Can is a German professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for English club Liverpool and the Germany national team. A versatile player, Can can also play as a defensive midfielder, centre back or full back.

He began his career at Bayern Munich, playing mostly in its reserve side before transferring to Bayer Leverkusen in 2013. A season later, he was signed by Liverpool for £9.75 million.

Can has represented Germany from Under-15 to Under-21 level; most recently at the 2015 European Championship. He made his senior debut in September 2015 and was selected for UEFA Euro 2016. He was part of the German squad which won the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, and also scored his first senior international goal.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

A central midfielder who plays for Premier League club Manchester United and the French national team. In 2012, Pogba joined Italian side Juventus to win four consecutive Serie A titles, as well as two Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana titles.

He received the Golden Boy award in 2013 and Bravo Award in 2014. In 2016, Pogba was named to the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year as well as the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI, after helping Juventus to the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final. He later represented his nation at UEFA Euro 2016 on home soil, where he finished as a runner-up, before winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup, scoring in the final.

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N’Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante

A Malian born central midfielder plays for the English club Chelsea. In 2015, he joined Leicester City to win the club’s first ever Premier League title.

The following year, he joined Chelsea winning the league again in his first season. He also won the PFA Player, Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year and became the first outfield player to win back-to-back English league titles with different clubs.

Kanté made his senior international debut for France in 2016 and was included in the squad that finished runners-up at the 2016 European Championship. In 2017 Kanté was named the French Player of the Year, a first for a player from the Premier League in seven years, and 12 months later was a key member of the 2018 FIFA World Cup winning squad.

Karim Benzema

EURO 2020: Muslim Stars to Watch - About Islam

Playing for the Spanish Real Madrid and the French national football team, Karim Benzema, 33, was named as a forward player in the French squad travelling to Brazil 2014.

At the age of 19, the Muslim striker was ranked a top goal-scorer in all European leagues in 2007 with 11 goals so far.

He stole the limelight in 2005, when he made his first debut with the Lyonnais and scored a spectacular goal that gave him a foothold in the French national team at the age of 17.

Hailing from Algerian family, Benzema helped the Lyonnais maintain Ligue 1 title for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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Moussa Sissoko

Moussa Sissoko

The 24-year-old Muslim footballer, who hails from Mali, will be playing for the French squad as a midfielder in European Championship 2016.

With 17 international caps, the own playing style French Muslim has started playing football at a very young age, joining Toulouse club’s first team at the age of 17.

In October 2009, Sissoko played his first international match between France and Faroe Islands. By 2013, the 188-cm Muslim midfielder has signed in for English Premier League’s Newcastle. Sissoko was a member of the France side that lost the UEFA Euro 2016 Final.

Ousmane Dembele

EURO 2020: Muslim Stars to Watch - About Islam

A 21-year-old forward for Spanish club Barcelona and the France national team, Dembele hails from Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. He won the German Cup DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17 in addition to La Liga 2017–18 and Copa del Rey 2017–18 with Barcelona.

Furthermore, he was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year 2015–16, UEFA Champions League Breakthrough XI: 2016, Bundesliga Rookie of the Season 2016–17, and Man of the match in 2017 DFB Pokal Final. That’s in addition to being named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season 2016–17.

After winning 20 caps and scoring five goals at youth level, Dembélé made his senior international debut for France in 2016. He was a member of the France squad that won the 2018 World Cup.

Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri

The 22-year-old Xherdan Shaqiri represents the Swiss national team in the ongoing France Euro 2016. Born in Yugoslavia from Albanian origin, the Muslim footballer plays as a midfielder for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga.

Since his breakthrough into Basel’s first team, the left-footed midfielder has drawn widespread praise for his speed, both on and off the ball.

Shaqiri won the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League title with Bayern in late May, as well as the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal title, making him one of the Bayern Munich players to have won the treble. A full international since 2010, Shaqiri has earned 90 caps and scored 23 goals for Switzerland. He represented the nation at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 2016.

Admir Mehmedi

Admir Mehmedi

Born in March 1991 in Macedonia, the Muslim footballer is among the Swiss squad participating now in EURO 2016.

Spending the majority of his youth career at FC Winthertu, the Albanian Mehmedi played his first international match between England and Switzerland in June 2014.

Playing for Switzerland at the UEFA European U-21 Championship 2011, the Muslim forward player made his first international debut in that same year. Mehmedi, 183-cm, has a history of 22 international caps and two international goals.

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Haris Seferovic

Haris Seferovic

The Portuguese club Benfica striker, born in February 1992, started his football career 22 years ago at the age of 7.

Dubbed as one of Switzerland’s finest talents, the Bosnian Muslim footballer was selected to present Switzerland in FIFA World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016.

Seferovic played his debut international match in February 2013 between Greece and Switzerland.

A full international since 2013, the 187-cm striker represented Switzerland at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup, earning over 70 caps.

Seferovic’s goal in the 92nd minute in Switzerland’s match against Ecuador, in the last World Cup, in 2014, defined the result of the match, giving his country the first victory in the history of highest ranking FIFA tournaments.

Granit Xhaka

EURO 2020: Muslim Stars to Watch - About Islam

Granit Xhaka is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Arsenal. He was born in September 1992 in Basel to Kosovo Albanian parents.

Xhaka was part of the Swiss team that won the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He made his senior debut in 2011 and has won over 90 caps, representing the nation at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and 2018, and at UEFA Euro 2016.