Africa's history of losing soccer talent to Europe

As many African countries wonder "what could have been" if players from the World Cup champions, France, actually played for their home African countries, it becomes worth noting that majority of European stars have African heritage. France had as many as 15 players with African roots in its squad of 23. Belgium had nine out of 23. Even England, also in the top four of the 2018 competition, had players with African parentage. In 2017, six players who were eligible to play for Nigeria were among 21 English players who won the FIFA Under-20s World Cup.

Until a few decades ago, African countries ignored first and second-generation emigrant players. Instead, they only selected players for their national teams who didn’t have multiple eligibilities for other countries. Although, efforts to recruit players eligible to play for multiple countries has begun - Morocco, had 17 players in this 2018 World Cup who were born outside the country. Nigeria had six that could have played for several European countries, while 25 players born in France were at the World Cup in the uniforms of Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia. 


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?