Africa has been gifted with real talent, gracing the world, playing before record crowds and winning the most prestigious honours this world has to offer. But it’s important to note that many African footballers who rose to the helm of the game didn’t do it with their native African countries.
Here, we bring you 21 of those players who chose to play for other nationalities instead of their Native African countries.
1. Eusebio (Mozambique)
Considered the greatest Portuguese footballer of all time, Eusebio was born on Mozambique before he played for Portugal (Mozambique’s colonial masters). He won 11 Portuguese league titles on top of scoring 473 times in 440 appearances.
2. Patrice Evra (Senegal)
Born in Dakar, Senegal to a diplomat of Guinea Descent and a mother from Cape Verde, Evra decided to play for France.
3. Nani (Cape Verde)
The former Manchester United star was born on the island of Cape Verde, 350 miles off the coast of West Africa. He now features for Portugal.
4. Marcel Desailly (Ghana)
He won the world cup with France in 1998 and won 116 caps for the French National team, Le Bleus. Desailly was born in Accra Ghana, where he grew up to Ghanaian Parents.
5. Dele Alli (Nigeria)
Delle Alli full name Bamidele Alli was born in Milton Keynes, Bunkingshire to a Nigerian father of the Yoruba tribe and an English mother. He plays for the England national team.
6. Patrick Vieira (Senegal)
Born in Dakar, Senegal, he went to France at age 8 and went on to plat 107 times for the French National team winning the World Cup and the Euro in 1998 and 2000 respectively.
7. Claude Makelele (Zaire)
Born in Kinshasa, Zaire, Makelele decided to play for the French National team instead where he played 71 times and even won the world cup in 1998.
8. Zinedine Zidane (Algeria)
The legendary footballer although born in La Castellane, Marseille in South France is of Algerian Kabyle descent. His parents emigrated to Paris from the Berber speaking region of Kabylie n Northern Algeria in 1953.
9. Paul Pogba (Guinea)
Although he plays for the French National team, Pogba was born to Guinean parents in Lagny-sur-Marne, France. His older brother Mathias plays for the Guinean National team.
10. Danny Welbeck (Ghana)
Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck who now features for the National team of England was born to Ghanaian parents in Longsight, Manchester.
11. Mario Balotelli (Ghana)
Mario Barwuah Balotelli was born to Ghanaian immigrants in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. At age three, he was placed under foster care to the Balotelli family. He plays for the Italian National team, The Azzuri.
12. Blaise Matuidi (Angola)
Matuidi was born to an Angolan father and a French mother. His father moved to France at a young age. Matuidi plays for the French National team
13. David Olatukunbo Alaba (Nigeria)
The Bayern Munich star, 24, was born to a Nigerian father and a Fillipino mother in Vienna, Austria. He has featured for the Austrian National team since the age of 17.
14. Bacary Sagna (Senegal)
Sagna was born in Sens, France to Senegalese parents. He plays for the French National team.
15. Sami Khedira (Tunisia)
Khedira was born to a Tunisian father and a German mother in Stuttgart, West German. He plays for the German national team.
16. Romelu Lukaku (Zaire)
Lukaku was born in Antwerp, Northern Belgium to Congolese parents. His father, Roger Lukaku was a professional footballer and played for the Zaire National team. Romelu plays for Belgium.
17. Hatem Ben Arfa (Tunisia)
Hatem’s dad, Kamel Ben Arfa was born in Tunisia and featured for the Tunisian national team before moving to France where Hatem was born. He plays for the French national team.
18. Kharim Benzema (Algeria)
He was born to French Nationals of Algerian decent. His father was born in the village of Tigzirt located in the North of Algeria before moving to Lyon as a young boy. Benzema plays for the French national team.
19. Steve Mandanda (Zaire)
Mandanda was born in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1985. His relatives nicknamed him “Frenchie” for choosing to play for the French national team instead of his country of birth.
20. Christian Benteke (Zaire)
Christian Liolo Benteke was born in Kinshasa Zaire. His family fled the Mobutu regime and settled in Liege, Belgium when he was three years old. He plays for the Belgian national team.
21. Moussa Dembele (Mali)
Dembele was born to a Malian family in Pontoise, Íle-de-France. He plays for the French U21 side.
Did we leave out any big names? Come on list them in the comment section below.