[He was feted by thousands of fans on his return to his Dagestani homeland, and later met Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AFP Photo)]
Dubai: Khabib Nurmagomedov, the world’s top Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion, has hailed Muslim football star Mohamed Salah as a “role model”, admiring the Liverpool striker for being humble despite his huge fame.
Khabib, the Russian Muslim of Avar descent, who in the last month retained his lightweight title with a dominant fourth-round submission win over McGregor at UFC 229, praised footballer Mohamed Salah while his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week.
"I follow him but I haven’t met him before. He’s a great player. We want many role models like him,” Russia Today quoted Khabib as saying in an interview with Arabic daily Al Ittihad.
“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 added.
“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, nicknamed 'The Eagle'.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is a well-known football fan, and has spoken passionately about keeping his local club Anzhi Makhachkala afloat as it struggles with dire financial problems.
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, making him one of the two biggest Muslim sports stars in the world at present besides Mohamed Salah.
He was feted by thousands of fans on his return to his Dagestani homeland, and later met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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