By Mohammed Bhana
Although Kolo Toure ended up on the losing side against Manchester United on Sunday, courtesy of substitute Michael Owen’s winner in the sixth minute of injury-time, the Manchester City captain did have something to celebrate.
The devout Muslim - who has been observing Ramadan for the past four weeks, even whilst squaring off against the best the Premier League can offer - celebrated Eid-Ul Fitr (a festival marking the end of Ramadan) on Sunday after the clash at Old Trafford, with his wife Awo, daughter Sania, son Yiassin and close relatives.
And although Toure did miss out on the morning and afternoon’s festivities, he was determined to relax with his family despite his City team losing in somewhat controversial circumstances.
A member of City’s backroom staff told Goal.com that although Toure missed most of the first day of the festival of Eid, the former Arsenal man has made many friends at City with his swashbuckling attitude both on and off the pitch. He has also amazed staff with his determination and tenacity during Ramadan.
“He is a total professional,” said the Eastlands employee.
“He doesn’t play the 'big man' even though it is common knowledge that Sheikh Mansour regards him very highly. He just wants to play for City and do the best he can.
“No one put any pressure on him not to fast during Ramadan. He also didn’t make a fuss about having to play on Eid day. He was very professional about it and it seems like he did enjoy Eid. Kolo is aware that many people of other faiths at the club do not get to spend much time with their families at Christmas and he did not want to be treated any differently.
“In the past, when Nicolas Anelka was here he also used to fast whilst playing and it wasn’t a problem.
“However, once he was the subject of a random drug test whilst fasting and was given no choice but to drink some water and break his fast in order to take the test. Anelka was very upset about having to take the test whilst fasting, but there was nothing anyone could do about it. But that experience taught us how important Ramadan and the Eid festival is.
“Toure is a machine and fasting did not seem to have an effect on him whilst he was training or playing. He was just so determined and he made his point in a very straightforward manner. I know his children were very much looking forward to celebrating Eid with their father.”
Only last week, Toure insisted that lack of food and water on matchday did not affect any of his performances in a Manchester City shirt.
He said: “It doesn't affect me physically. It makes me stronger. You can do it when you believe so strongly in something.
“A normal human can be without water for much longer than one day.”
The likes of Real Madrid's Mahamadou Diarra, Lassana Diarra, Karim Benzema and Sevilla’s Freddie Kanoute also took part in the month of Ramadan whilst playing in La Liga, and therefore also celebrated the Eid-Ul-Fitr festival on Sunday.
Kanoute recently told Goal.com about how he, like Toure, also respects Ramadan and follows the holy month to the best of his ability.
“It is sometimes harder to keep the fast because here in the south of Spain it is very hot, but I can do it, thank God,” the striker said.
“There are many Muslim footballers who people just do not know about in England, in Spain, France and in many other leagues too. But having faith and practicing Ramadan is not something they wish to tell the world about.
“Personally, having faith helps my football and football helps me to be healthy and strengthens me. There is no conflict because people who know about Islam, they know that fasting empowers and does not weaken the Muslim.”