JNN 18 Jan 2014 Abuja : A retired Nigerian World Cup footballer Emeka Ezeugo has reverted to Islam, saying he reached his life-changing decision after reading about the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“I am always a curious person and studied different religions when I found the life of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) very inspiring,” Ezeugo told reporters earlier this week, Spy Ghana reported.
Ezeugo, 46, said he embraced Islam after being inspired by the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The former footballer, who represented Nigeria in the 1994 World Cup after playing for Mohammedan Sporting Club for nearly a decade, said he feels honored to be a follower of the great prophet who he thinks is the greatest among all messengers of God.
He has now taken a new name, Mustafa Mohammed and plans to apply for a new passport with his new name once he returns to his home in Nigeria.
Reports about Ezeugo’s reversion to Islam first spread in February 2012, yet it is the first time he speaks to media about reasons behind his decision.
He recited the shahada, declaration of faith, after visiting a Muslim scholar last week with Mohammedan manager Amirul Islam, his former team-mate Kaiser Hamid, Zaker party leader Amir Faisal and club official Abu Hasan Prince.
“I am a grown up man brother. I am free to make my own decisions. None of my family members protested the decision,” he said.
Emeka, however, said that the large number of friends he made in Bangladesh is like his family and they gave him good support in making the decision.
“Bangladesh is my second home and I have some friends here who are like my brothers. They helped me in making the decision,” Emeka said.
Finding Islam, Emeka said the decision made him stronger.
He added that his life has become more disciplined as he has to offer prayers more now and follow some other rituals of the religion.
“I have just planted a seed and now I have to nourish it into a tree,” said Emeka
“I know that I will discover many good sides of this decision with time but at this moment I can say the religion has made my life more disciplined,” he added.
Nigeria, one of the world’s most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria’s 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.