Athletes are people first and foremost, even though their athletic prowess should always be the main focus. Let’s face it: athletes are also somewhat of a public figure. Even though they may be superstars in their sport on the pitch, court or any other surface, people are often curious about their everyday lives. Read on to read all about atheist football players.
This includes everything, including their homes, which are frequently stunning, their diet and exercise regimens, and their marital status—as demonstrated by the numerous lists of the sexiest single athletes. From what they eat when they wake up in the morning to what they do to relax every day, fans are curious about how they live.
Atheist football players:
An athlete’s religious beliefs are a big part of their personal lives. Sports and religion have long been topics of conversation. Many athletes give thanks to God or whatever religious entity they believe in, either to bring their focus to the task at hand or to show gratitude for a goal or point.
This is similar to how some athletes have notable celebration dances or pre-game rituals. When a certain extremely devout quarterback named Tim Tebow joined the NFL, started saying prayers on the field, and popularised “Tebowing,” the question became even more pertinent. Tebow was vocal about his religious beliefs, but his faith is by no means unique in a league where some teams even employ team chaplains.
Atheist athletes appear to be in the minority, especially in team sports where players may pray together in the locker room or have access to resources like a team chaplain. Atheist athletes can be found in a variety of sports, including rock climbing, football, and soccer. Athletes who have achieved great success have been awarded medals or cups. While some people may keep their beliefs mostly to themselves, others may express them more openly. These seven athletes self-identify as atheists.
Top 7 atheist footballers:
7. Eunan O’Kane:
Irish professional football player Eunan Charles O’Kane is currently unrestricted. He played for Championship team Luton Town last season while on loan from Leeds United.
O’Kane was raised in Feeny, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and is the eldest child of Charlie and Lorraine O’Kane. His only sibling is Cora, his younger sister.
Playing Gaelic football with Banagher GAC as a child, O’Kane’s father led the Derry GAA hurling minors to their last Ulster championship victory in 2001. O’Kane completed his secondary education at St. Patrick’s College and St. Canice’s Primary School in Maghera.
He enrolled in Maiden City Soccer Academy at the age of ten, and by the time he was twelve, Manchester City and other teams were scouting him. O’Kane made the decision to give up Gaelic football at the age of sixteen in order to focus on his association football career.
In international affairs, he has also represented the Republic of Ireland. O’Kane is a midfielder with the ability to play as an assertive playmaker in the midfield.
Despite being selected as a backup for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad, he was left off of the final 23-man roster.
After wanting to wed his girlfriend Laura Lacole in a humanist ceremony, O’Kane became involved in a well-publicized legal battle to have the ceremony accepted as lawful.
When O’Kane and his fiancée, Laura Lacole, won their case in the Belfast High Court, Northern Ireland, through the Court of Appeal, on June 20, 2017, they made history.
On June 22, 2017, the couple tied the knot in what was the first-ever legal humanist wedding in both Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom outside of Scotland.
6. Matt Watson:
Although Watson was raised in England, he chose to study in the United States at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He spent two seasons as a player for the UMBC Retrievers in 2004 and 2005. After the 2005 season, Watson made the decision to turn professional, forfeiting his remaining two years of college eligibility.
In 2006, the midfield player signed with the USL Second Division Richmond Kickers. That season, he played in every one of the twenty-four Kickers games as the team won the regular season and the postseason. In 2007, Watson and his teammates captured the regular-season title once more, but they were defeated by the Harrisburg City Islanders in the USL-2 Championship game.
Watson was selected to be on the USL-2 All-Stars first team. In April 2006, Watson was selected third overall by the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) Baltimore Blast in the MISL Draft. Despite the Blast’s failure to qualify for the playoffs in 2006–2007, Watson scored ten goals in twenty-nine games for the team. In his second season, he suffered a toe fracture that kept him out for the majority of the play.
But when the Blast won the 2007–2008 season, he did win his second professional title. When playing for the Blast, Jonny Steele, a member of the 2007 Carolina RailHawks, convinced him to sign with the RailHawks. On December 12, 2007, Watson was signed by the RailHawks to play in the USL First Division in 2008. In March 2017, the 36-year-old became a member of Phoenix Rising in the United Soccer League. After spending a season with Phoenix Rising, Watson signed with USL team Indy Eleven on February 8, 2018.
5. Johan Cruyff:
Over the course of his career, Dutch football player Cruyff—born Hendrik Johannes Cruijff—achieved great success. In the 1970s, he was the recipient of three different Ballon d’Or awards, also known as European Footballer of the Year.
Cruyff finished second only to Pele in the World Player of the Century category after being elected European Player of the Century in 1999 by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics. Additionally, he is listed among the top 100 players in the world of FIFA as of right now.
At one point, Cruyff said, “I’m not religious. Before taking the pitch, each of the 22 players in Spain makes the sign of the cross. Therefore, if it succeeds, every match must conclude in a draw.”
As a player, he was the recipient of three Ballon d’Or awards: in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Most people agree that Cruyff was one of the best managers in sports history in addition to being one of the best players of all time. He supported the football theory developed by Rinus Michels, known as Total Football.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dutch football rose from semi-professional status and obscurity to become a dominant force in the sport. In addition to leading the Netherlands to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final, Cruyff won the Golden Ball award for the competition.
He executed a manoeuvre in the 1974 finals known as the “Cruyff Turn,” which has since been widely copied in modern play. After a kidnapping attempt on him and his family in their Barcelona home discouraged Cruyff from playing football, he decided not to compete in the 1978 World Cup.
Cruyff started his professional career with Ajax, where he was the winner of three European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, and eight Eredivisie titles. After helping Barcelona win La Liga in his first season there in 1973, he left for a transfer fee that set a record and was named European Footballer of the Year.
After retiring from playing in 1984, Cruyff went on to become a very successful manager of Ajax and then Barcelona. He also continued to be a valuable advisor to both teams after his coaching career. His son Jordi was a professional football player as well.
Johan Cruyff is one of the few soccer players who does not practice religion. When it comes to winning the next game, Cruyff isn’t thanking God for all the hard work he puts into each one. Unlike the other players, he is not in prayer.
4. Robert Smith:
Former Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith plays in a league where religion is especially prevalent. Prayer circles have occasionally broken out on NFL fields to commemorate a team’s win, and the league has made arrangements for players to have access to numerous religious services.
In 2006, Smith discussed his personal beliefs and religion in the NFL in an interview with Salon. Despite being an atheist, Smith had no problem with the religious services that the NFL offers. But he didn’t like it when evangelicals used famous athletes as a platform to spread their message.
3. Riccardo Montolivo:
Italian soccer player Montolivo was born in Caravaggio and is presently with AC Milan. Despite hailing from a predominantly Catholic nation, the captain of AC Milan has openly declared his atheism.
Nonetheless, Montolivo demonstrates excellent sportsmanship and respect for his religious teammates. He attended the meeting between the Italian team and Pope Francis and even shook hands with the religious leader.
Former Italian professional football player Riccardo Montolivo was a midfield player. His tenures with Fiorentina, AC Milan, and the Italian national team are what made him most famous.
As a dynamic and imaginative player, Montolivo began his career with Atalanta in 2003 and joined Fiorentina in 2005. He appeared in more than 250 games for the team over the following seven years.
After Massimo Ambrosini left Milan in 2012, he joined on a free transfer the following year and captained the team from 2013 to 2017, winning the Supercoppa Italiana in 2016. He left the club in the summer of 2019 and retired that same year.
In 2007, Montolivo made his Italy debut against South Africa. Since then, he has played in two FIFA Confederations Cups (2009 and 2013, winning a bronze medal in the latter event), as well as UEFA Euro 2012, where he started in the final, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He also took part in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
He played for Italy with 66 senior caps between 2007 and 2017, scoring two goals. In public, Riccardo Montolivo has professed his atheism. But this does not mean that he is against religion altogether. He still respects other team members who practise different religions and hold different opinions.
2. Chris Kluwe:
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe stands out like a sore thumb because of how vocal he is about his religious beliefs—or lack thereof, to be more precise—in an organisation whose players and managers are predominately Christians. When word leaked out that Kluwe would be speaking at an American Atheists convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, it created quite a stir and attracted a lot of attention from the general public.
Even NBC Sports acknowledged the NFL’s strong religious ties and said Kluwe was putting himself “pretty far outside the NFL mainstream” by making this decision. Although it might be simple to associate Kluwe with atheism given that he has agreed to speak at an atheist convention, he describes himself as “cheerfully agnostic” and claims that doubt is his religion in his book Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies.
1. Brian Clough:
English football player and manager Brian Howard Clough OBE was one of just four managers to win the English League with two different teams. His career was cut short by a devastating injury, but he began as a striker and remains one of the Football League’s top goal-scorers.
Peter Taylor, who served as Clough’s assistant manager at several teams during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, is associated with the player. They had incredible success with Nottingham Forest and Derby County.
There was stiff competition for the top three spots, and Brian came in third place among the five most well-known atheist football players.
Brian Howard Clough OBE, an English football player and manager, is one of only four managers to win the English League with two separate teams. He started as a striker and is still among the Football League’s top goalscorers, but a devastating injury ended his career.
The player is linked to Peter Taylor, who was Clough’s assistant manager at a number of teams in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. With Derby County and Nottingham Forest, they achieved amazing success.
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