07 April 2009

Anelka: 'Islam helped me live with my Moscow miss'

Chelsea striker reveals faith gave him the strength to carry on after penalty agony in last year's Champions League final
By Mark Fleming (The Independent UK)
Tuesday, 7 April 2009

It wasn't the most passionate display of anguish to follow a famous penalty miss, and it certainly didn't score him favour with the Chelsea fans who had travelled to last season's Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow. But Nicolas Anelka has now given some insight into the reason for his cool response at seeing Edwin van der Sar save his shoot-out effort: his Muslim faith helps him keep the highs and lows in perspective.

The striker's lack of spontaneous emotion had been construed as evidence he did not really care. After all, he had only been at the club a matter of months after a January move from Bolton for £15m and would probably be on his way shortly.
Yet instead of leaving for another club in the summer, Anelka, 30, has stayed at Chelsea, and with his goals and performances has succeeded in winning over the Stamford Bridge sceptics. The Frenchman travels to Liverpool for tomorrow's Champions League quarter-final first leg as the Premier League's top scorer, focused on making up for his Moscow mishap.
One reason for Anelka's ability to treat success and failure with the same understated equanimity is his devout faith in Islam. The Frenchman publicly converted to the faith in 2004 and took the name Abdul-Salam Bilal, but he has since revealed he had been a Muslim since being a teenager.

"It keeps me calmer and more stable on and off the pitch," Anelka said in a magazine interview. "It can help you during difficult times. I often say to myself, about football or otherwise, that things happen for a reason. You can't change things. You have to accept them. Life is full of ups and downs. You're not happy all the time. My religion offers stability and keeps my feet on the ground. It helps me to know who and where I am."
Anelka has never stayed long in one place, having played for nine clubs so far in his career. Surprisingly he admitted that the five-month period he spent on loan at Liverpool seven years ago was the best of his chequered career. He only played 20 league games and scored four goals at Anfield, but he revealed the time holds special memories for him. The role he was given in the team by the then manager GĂ©rard Houllier was his preferred position, supporting a more natural goalscorer. Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink take note.
"I played my best football at Liverpool because I played in my best position during my time there," he said. "There was Michael Owen, who's a natural goalscorer, and Emile Heskey, who sets lots of things up for you. The three of us complemented each other. Owen was the main goalscorer, and you knew he was going to score no matter what, so that allowed me to play my best football.
"I played as a centre-forward at Arsenal and scored lots of goals so everybody thinks that's my best position. But I don't [think so]. For me, football's not about scoring goals. I play because I want to enjoy myself. If I have a chance – great. But my main aim is to play well. If I went through an entire game and then scored in the 85th minute, I wouldn't be happy."
utusanlfc says :
For the record, when Houllier decided not to sign Anelka on a permanent basis.... I was a bit confused. Instead the Frenchman chose Alhaj Diouf. hmm... what could it have been if Anelka stayed? hmmm... that was history. Thursday wee-hours, Anelka is our opponent. He won't be scoring.

1 comment:

skywalker said...

sorry anelka ...
we'll beat you in UCL this time ..



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