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English Premier League

Paul Pogba makes pilgrimage to Mecca at start of Ramadan and ahead of 2018 World Cup

The Manchester United player is performing the optional Muslim pilgrimage known as ‘Umrah’ for the second year in a row

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 5:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 5:46pm

Manchester United star Paul Pogba has gone to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform the optional Muslim pilgrimage known as ‘Umrah’.

The Frenchman, who is preparing to represent much-fancied France at the 2018 World Cup in Russia starting on June 15, just completed an arduous season in the English Premier League with United finishing second in the league and reaching the FA Cup final, where they lost 1-0 to Chelsea on Saturday.

“Only the person who comes here, that can understand the feeling. So I hope the people that never been here yet, they all will one day,” Pogba said in a 30-second video taken at the main Haram Mosque in Mecca.

“This a beautiful place. I cannot explain my feeling here. Inshallah [God willing] you all will come here one day. Salam.”

The Umrah is the smaller of the two pilgrimages in the Islamic religion. The main “Hajj” is performed during the first part of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar and is compulsory for all Muslims to undertake at least once in their lifetime if they can afford it and are in good health.

However, Umrah can be performed any time of the year and is optional. The Umrah can be completed in half a day whereas the Hajj involves multiple rituals over several days.

It’s not the first time Pogba has performed Umrah, having made his first visit to Mecca at the end of the 2017 football season.

Pogba returned to Manchester United in 2016 for a then world record€105 million (HK$969 million). He had an earlier spell with United from 2009 to 2011 before moving to Italian giants Juventus where he emerged as a world-class player.

Among the other Muslim footballers who have documented their trips to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah are Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and former Arsenal player Nicolas Anelka.

Recently New Zealand All Blacks rugby union star Sonny Bill Williams also performed Umrah.