Liverpool's Mohamed Salah
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah on July 31, 2019. Image Credit: AP

"I have gone from hating Islam to becoming a Muslim," a football fan said, according to a story published in the Guardian on Thursday.

Ben Bird, a season-ticket holder at Nottingham Forest, said to the Guardian reporter, "Mohamed Salah was the first Muslim I could relate to."

The football fan recounted how he, as a young sixth form student, came across 'right-wing media pages' that were targeted against Muslims. He goes on to say how his opinion on Islam used to be that 'the religion, the culture and the people were backward; that they didn’t integrate and wanted to take over'.

Mohamed Salah and "the way he lives his life, how he talks to people", Ben said in his piece, inspired the change in heart and the conversion to Islam.

"When people read the Quran, or read about Islam, they see something different that is not always portrayed in the media. I’m new to the Islamic community and I’m still learning. It is hard. It’s a lifestyle change," Ben adds in his account of how Islam has changed his life.

Has being Muslim changed him?

Ben added in the article, "I don’t think my mates quite believe that I’m a Muslim because I’ve not really changed. I just think my heart is better."

Salah, the 26-year-old Liverpool forward, was named one of the US magazine’s 100 most influential figures of the year, alongside other athletes including Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Naomi Osaka. He is a vocal champion of various causes including gender inequality.