Exclusive In-Depth Interview with Kolo Toure of Liverpool FC on Religion and Football

PI Magazine caught up with Liverpool defender Kolo Toure at Melwood to talk about religion and football

PI: What were your earliest memories playing football?
Kolo: I was lucky to join one of the best academy back in Africa with a great coach Jean Marc Guillou, the president of ASEC Mimosas, both guys developed me to where I am now and then I came to Arsenal and everything changed.

PI: Who discovered your talent?
Kolo: Few guys but you have to thank God first for giving me this quality and this luck to find those people, thereís a few guys firstly my president which I call every time, this guy has been amazing for me and after that Jean Marc Guillou and have few other coaches and then Arsene Wenger who brought me to the next level.

PI: You have played for many clubs, how does Liverpool experience rate?
Kolo: Yeah itís fantastic to play for one the best clubs in the world for me because Liverpool has won so many trophies the history of the club is amazing now the club is doing better and we have alot of fantastic young players and I am enjoying every single minute I have here.

PI: How much does your religion play a part in shaping your game?
Kolo: For sure my religion has been my power because for my religion comes first Allah (God) is the most important part of my life and I think of everything Allah (God) has done for me and I do not think I would have been here living this life because my life has been up and down but the trust I put in my God just helped me to work hard and believe in me.

PI: How difficult is it to practice Islam whilst playing?
Kolo: It is easy, very easy my religion comes first then my family and then my football, my job is very important but if I was not blessed by God I donít think I would have been playing football.

PI: Do you get chance to do your daily prayers?
Kolo: For sure, always it takes just five minutes to do every 2/3 hours and you have to do five times a day in 24 hours it is very easy to do, you got 25 minutes to spend and think about God, it is very important.

PI: Every club you been to, are they helpful in providing you a place to pray?
Kolo: Great, with Arsenal and City I always had a place to pray and when I came here the manager made a place to pray not only for Muslims but for Christian, Jewish and that is great and that shows the football world respects all religion and for me my religion is key and I am not the only one praying in this place their is Aly Cissoko he is praying there and that is great for us, Brendon Rogers been amazing to give us a place to pray.

PI: Do you meet up with other Muslim players outside football?
Kolo: Yes of course, Demba Ba his a great guy, big respect to him, Kanoute, my brother Yahya Toure, Sami Nasri everyone believes in God but everyone have limits some believe more than others but as time goes by and you get older more people start believing in God lot more.

PI: How difficult is it to fit in Ramadan /Fasting and football?
Kolo: I think you need to be very strong in your head, it is difficult honestly, going without eating throughout the day and spending alot of energy running around with strikers like Sturridge and Suarez in training but I just try to adapt and do my best for my God, but no one  is perfect.

PI: How do you celebrate Eid?
Kolo: Because I am far from my family so it is more difficult but I get on with my brother we have a nice meal go to the mosque.

PI: What makes you happy? (Football & Personal life)
Kolo: Football: Football has been my life and everything I have I thank God who gave me this talent, I enjoy playing football.
Personal: God first (Allah) when God is happy I am very happy, as only God can make everything right or everything bad it donít matter what quality you have and what you got in life, God can end all that.

PI: What makes you unhappy? (Football & Personal life)
Kolo: Football: Nothing really, football is great, with everything comes good and bad.
Personal: My relation with Allah (God) is very important and if I do my salaat (prayer) a bit later I get sad with that.

PI: Once you have hanged up your boots, what would you like to do?
Kolo: I left my country when I was very young with my wife when 22/23, I am very big African guy, I will just try to go back to my country, I have sacrificed alot and just want to be with my family enjoy the time with them and make few things back in the country help them, I think Africa needs the best people the best guys to go back there to bring them the knowledge. Why not set up an academy, be a coach there but always have one foot in Europe especially England as it is my second home.

PI: What message would you give out to youngsters from the Muslim community who wants to play football professionally?
Kolo: When u play football that does not mean you canít be a good Muslim, nobody is perfect, donít wait until youíre perfect to start doing your religion, religion comes first then family then football, I find people thinking you have to be perfect before to go into religion, you have to try to do your best in everything that you do, donít think that you are Muslim you canít do anything, religion is very simple you just have to follow the five principles as long as you are doing them you are fine, I think some time we make religion more complicated than it is.

PI: How good is this Liverpool Team?
Kolo: Itís amazing, itís fantastic alot young players fighting everyday in training really,  really hard, this team is amazing the manager is great even the staff the people who work at the club very professional, itís a great club honestly a great experience for me to be here.

PI: Do other non Muslim players at Liverpool ask about Islam?
Kolo: Yes of course because theirs alot of Christians, theirs alot Muslims and the most important thing is we need to respect each other, we canít make everyone believe in one thing the world is different, everybody is different and we have to accept that.

PI: Do you believe Liverpool can win the title?
Kolo: Inshaallah (God willing)

PI: What have you learnt this season playing with Liverpool FC?
Kolo: What I have learnt is never give up, never ever give up in anything that you do, you will go through hard times but hard times come just to make you better person, I remember when I was at Manchester city people were talking that Kolo Toure is finished and Mr Brendon Rogers had me on the phone and I spoke to him and I came here and had my preparation very well, this season I am playing doing my best for my club and everyone was talking his finished they can see a different face, they make you think what you are not, you have to show that what you are capable of doing believe in yourself give 100%. 

Interviewed by Shakir Ahmed

Full on Camera Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tO7TE94CUs