January 4, 2011

Serbian Soccer Player Confesses His Orthodox Faith On Turkish Field

The international Serbian soccer player Mateja Kežman is an aggressive player, yet off the field he is a devout Orthodox Christian. He displays this on the Turkish soccer field when he celebrates wearing a shirt with an icon of Christ, even though he plays for the Turkish side Fenerbahce.

30 year old Kežman has on his right arm many tattoos. One reads "Only God can judge me" in Serbian, a text from Elder Tadej, one of the foremost recent monastic elders in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Another is an icon of Christ. He has expressed his desire to play in Russia for various reasons, one of which is to be in a more Orthodox Christian environment.

Kežman has revealed that he loves the monastic way of life and thinks that when his career is over he will take the monastic path, preferably on Mount Athos.

In an earlier interview he said: "When I visited monasteries in the past I felt sorry for the monks. Now I envy their lifestyle. It is the ultimate sacrifice to the Lord. It is very difficult to live in this world, and be respectful of all the Commandments of God. I try to spend as much time as possible thinking about God Who allowed me to know the truth and being alongside people who serve Him... Others are addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, and women; in my case it is tattoos. Nevertheless, I feel that my passion is reduced day by day, with the help of God."

When he celebrated in Turkey with his shirt bearing the icon of Christ, it caught the attention of the international media and his picture was printed on the front-page news.

For an interview with him in Serbian about his devotion to Orthodoxy, see here.

Even if many athletes have substance abuse problems and will eventually need addiction counseling later, there are athletes who actually stay away from drugs.