The Argentinean daily La Nacion featured a story this week on the Dutch soccer player Wesley Sneijder, who scored the winning goal against Brazil in the World Cup quarter finals last week. The article revealed his conversion and baptism, which took place shortly before he traveled to South Africa for the tournament.
In an article entitled, “The Spiritual Goal of a Dutch Soccer Star,” journalist Mariano de Vedia said Sneijder arrived at the World Cup “completely renewed.”
“At the end of May he converted to Catholicism and was baptized in a chapel in Milan, where the brilliant soccer star plays for the Inter Soccer Team, receiving endless accolades. He was influenced in his decision by his girlfriend, Dutch actress and model Yolanthe Cabau, who was born in the Spanish city of Ibiza and who he has decided to marry in the Church after the World Cup ends.
“He was also inspired by his friendship with Javier Zanetti, his teammate and captain for Inter, who is himself a practicing Catholic,” the paper explained.
Sneijder said that he had recently attended a Mass with his teammates and was moved to embrace the faith. He signed up for catechism classes with Inter’s chaplain.
“In South Africa, he said he prays every day and goes to Mass on Sundays and receives Communion with Yolanthe. He wears a Rosary around his neck that she gave him as a gift,” the article states.
“The faith gives me strength,” Sneijder said. “My convictions often keep me strong and give me determination. Everyday I pray the Our Father with her. Before each game I always seek out a place to pray,” the soccer star added.
Sneijder's Dutch team plays against Uruguay later today in the World Cup's semi-finals.