UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov has hailed fellow Muslim sports star Mohamed Salah as “a role model,” saying he admires the example that the “humble” Liverpool and Egypt striker is setting despite his huge fame.
Nurmagomedov and Salah are arguably the two biggest Muslim sports stars in the world at present.
The Russian fighter nicknamed ‘The Eagle’ has seen his popularity soar after defeating Conor McGregor at UFC 229, while Salah’s record-breaking exploits for Liverpool have earned him millions of adoring fans.
Speaking to Al Ittihad newspaper while on a trip to the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, football-mad Khabib praised the example that Salah was setting for younger generations.
"I follow him but I haven’t met him before. He’s a great player, we want many role models like him,” Nurmagomedov said.
“They reflect the true image of our ethics. I feel that Allah is standing with him [Salah], and our new generations need those who are like Mohamed Salah to learn humility, no matter how famous and innovative you are.
“He’s an icon that we must protect, and we stand behind him so he can continue to succeed. I admire him and the ethics and values he spreads every day in Europe,” added the 30-year-old fighter.
Khabib himself saw a huge popularity boost after his dominant fourth-round submission win over McGregor earlier in October, adding 3 million Instagram followers in just 24 hours.
He was feted by thousands of fans on his return to his Dagestani homeland, and later met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nurmagomedov has since embarked on a global tour, including a meeting with Sheikh Diab Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the UAE over the weekend.
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