Sunday’s Euro 2016 final between hosts France and Portugal was obviously a European affair but it had a distinct African flavour.
Eder, who scored the winning goal for Portugal was born in Guinea-Bissau but brought up in Portugal.
Actually put it this way, France and Portugal’s colonial past was on full display. Eleven of the players in French squad and six of those in the Portuguese team were African “exports”. In all, the children of second generation African emigrants who had been naturalized into the national teams of the two European footballing powerhouses made up 37% of the players in the two squads.
France were the strong favourites. They had home ground advantage and boasted the stronger team, at least on paper, mainly due to the aforementioned African “exports”. Portugal had, after all, finished third in their group. Then there was also the small matter of history. France had a 10-game winning streak going against Portugal that stretched all the way back to 1975.
In the end, the crop of African “exports” in the French team were denied victory by a player who traces his roots to Guinea-Bissau. Éder , real name Éderzito António Macedo Lopes, was born in Bissau in December 1987. Like teammate Danilo Pereira who was also born in Bissau, Éder moved to Portugal as a child. Following his heroics at the final, his links to Africa were the subject of many Tweets.