Africa-born footballers leaving for greener pastures in Europe



For long, African footballers have dumped the continent to represent European countries in global tournaments, all with various reasons for doing so.

Even at present, more talents still leave the continent in favour of European countries. This exodus has affected the sport greatly as African nations have continuously preformed dismally against the European countries in tournaments such as the World Cup.

From the great Zinedine Zidane ‘Zizou’ who opted to represent France and not Algeria the country of his parents, to Jordon Ibe who just recently opted to represent England and not Nigeria, Africa has been robbed of massive talents over and over again.

Could the situation have been different had the numerous players decided to represent African countries?

Well, seeing the impact they have had on the teams they represented, we can only speculate that they would have made the African teams way better than they are now.

Lamentably, this trend may continue for a long time since the players would most definitely chose Europe over Africa due to the better terms, opportunities and facilities offered in that side of the world.

We take a look at some of the footballers who swapped allegiance from African countries to play for European countries.

To begin with, Paul Pogba, frequently tipped for midfield greatness, opted to represent France rather than Guinea, the country of his birth. His younger brother Mathias Pogba, also a footballer, however represents Guinea.

Another similar scenario is that of the Boateng brothers. While Kevin-Prince chose to represent Ghana, his elder brother Jerome picked Germany. The two have gone on to represent the different countries at the highest level, the World Cup.

Italian forward Mario Balotelli, born in Ghana, now represents Italy having grown up there after his parents emigrated there in his early childhood.

Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha, better known as Nani is of Cape Verde origin. Just like Balotelli’s parents, his too moved to Europe, Portugal in his early childhood. He now represents the Portuguese national team.

Others are;

Karim Benzema who represents France but whose parents are of Algerian descent.

Saido Berahino who picked England ahead of Burundi, the country of his parents’ birth.

Wilfred Zaha who picked England ahead of Ivory Coast, his country of birth.

Divock Origi, who plays for Belgium rather than Kenya, his father’s country of origin.

Christian Benteke who also represents Belgium but is of the Demorcatic Republic of Congo origin.

Romelu Lukaku as well plays for Belgium but is of the DRC’s origin. Lukaku’s father even played for the DRC national team.


Patrice Evra, the French defender who is of Senagal origin, born in Dakar.

Danny Welbeck too plays for England and not the country of his parents birth, Ghana.

Blaise Matuidi opted to represent France and not the country of his father, Angola.

Angelo Ogbonna who also picked Italy ahead of Nigeria.

Mamadou Sakho, who represents France and not Senegal, the country of his parents birth.

There are a lot more footballer of African descent who represent European countries, leaving Africa only wishing they had remained and represented the African countries.

A lot of improvements however need to be effected in the African football scenario and atmosphere at large if the trend is to be stopped.

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