Brazilian footballer converts to Islam after years in Saudi
Sergio Ricardo Neves revealed he had become a Muslim in a video posted on Wednesday by Saudi former footballer Mohammad Suwaid on Twitter.
"Alhamdullilah [thank God], now I am a Muslim," the footballer says in the video. "Alhamdullilah… I think you know this is the best decision I've made in my life."
Neves - better known as Ricardo in the Arab world where he spent most of his career - spent four years playing for Jeddah-based club Al-Ittihad, the oldest football team in Saudi Arabia.
Suwaid was also a player for Ittihad from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.
After starting his Middle East football career in Turkey, Ricardo also spent time playing for two other Saudi clubs, playing for two years at Jeddah-based Al-Ahli and two years at Riyadh-based Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad's rival team.
After leaving Saudi Arabia in 2005, Ricardo went on to play for Qatari team Al-Gharafa before returning to the kingdom for a final Saudi season at Buraidah-based club Al-Raed.
He retired in 2010 after playing a last season for Botafogo, a Rio de Janeiro-based team.
Suwaid said on Twitter that Ricardo traveled to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan to visit his former home Jeddah, and converted to Islam on Wednesday just after the early morning prayers.
"May God protect you my brother and accept your prayers," he added.
Suwaid's tweet earned more than a thousand replies, many of which were from Ricardo fans offering their good wishes and thanks to God.
"May God witness how happy I am that our hero Sergio Ricardo has become a Muslim. This is thanks to God's will and you all at the team," tweeted one Al-Ittihad superfan.
"I'm proud to belong to this long-standing club."
Al-Hilal followers were just as excited by the news, with one writing: "Dear Sergio who was the last one to make us Al-Hilal fans happy by winning the Asian Super Cup [in 2000], thank God, has now given us joy again."