With just hours to the World Cup kick off in Russia, we look at some of the top African-born players who chose to play for a European nation.
Dele Alli – Nigeria
His full name is Bamidele Jermaine Alli. He was born in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England to a Yoruba Nigerian father Kehinde Alli and English mother Denise Alli.
In the summer of 2016, Dele elected to stop wearing the name “Alli” on his match shirts because he felt no connection with the Alli family name (father’s name), instead opting for ‘Dele’.
He chose to play for England over Nigeria and he will be essential for the ‘Three Lions’ in this year’s world cup.
Danny Welbeck – Ghana
His full name is Daniel Tackie Nii Mensah Welbeck. Although he was born and raised in Manchester, England, both his parents are Ghanaian. The 27-year-old will be essential in England’s attack. The Arsenal forward has scored 16 goals in 39 senior appearances for the England national team.
Danny Welbeck started his football career at Manchester United, before making a move to rivals Arsenal in 2014.
Nabil Fekir – Algeria
Fekir made up his mind to play for France at senior level in 2015 when he was named in his ancestral Algeria’s squad for friendlies against Oman and Qatar in March 2015 but withdrew to take part in the French squad for friendlies against Brazil and Denmark.
Fekir became the seventh player with Algerian citizenship to play for the ‘Les Blues’, when making his debut against Brazil on the 26th of March joining Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri and Zinedine Zidane among others.
Jerome Boateng – Ghana
Jerome Boateng is born to a Ghanaian father and a German mother in Berlin. The 29-year-old Bayern defender was part of the Germany squad that won the World Cup in Brazil 2014.
His elder brother Kevin Prince Boateng represented Ghana Black Stars in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
N’Golo Kante – Mali
The 25-year-old midfielder will represent France in his first world cup tournament. He was born in France but both his parents’ birthplace is Mali.
The West African country tried to pursue him to play for them in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations before making his senior appearance for France but Kante opted not to join.
Blaise Matuidi – Angola
Matuidi is born to an Angolan father and a Congolese mother who both migrated to France.
The attacking midfielder began his professional career at Troyes, making his debut at 17 and celebrated promotion from Ligue 2 at the end of his first senior campaign in 2004/05. In 2011, he was sold to PSG for €10m. He’s currently playing for Italian giants Juventus.
Adil Rami – Morocco
Adil Rami is a French professional footballer who plays as a central defender for French club Marseille.
Rami was born in the city of Bastia on the island of Corsica to Moroccan parents.
Despite constant early inquiries from Morocco prior to his first selection, he opted to represent France in 2010 making his debut against Norway.
Kylian Mbappe – Cameroon
Mbappé is a 19-year-old PSG wonder kid whose father is Cameroonian and mother is French.
His performances last year attracted the attention of the Cameroon Football Federation who saw him as a future Lion and opted for him to play in 2017 Afcon but French coach Didier Deschamps also had keen eyes for the kid which quickly embarked the young Cameroonian in the adventure of the Blues.
In February this year, former Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto called out Mbappe for choosing to play for France instead of the country of his father’s origin.
Sami Khedira – Tunisia
The Juventus midfielder holds both a Tunisian and a German passport. His father is a Tunisian while the mother is a German.
Both Tunisia and Germany are at this year’s World Cup but Sami chose Germany. He was also part of the Germany squad that won the World Cup in Brazil 2014.