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Africa well-represented at Euro 2016 tournament

REVEALED: Africa's representation in the 2016 UEFA Euro final

July 10, 2016 By Michelle Bonsu
Numerous European countries weren't the only ones represented at Euro 2016. Here's an interesting look at which teams have players who have a connection to Africa.

With the UEFA Euro 2016 final taking place this Sunday, some people worldwide have been doing quite a bit of digging for unique facts and stats about the players are representing Portugal and France.

One area some viewers - naturally those from Africa, of course - have been keen on focusing on is the "African connection" at this summer's tournament. For years, players either born in Africa or of direct African heritage have opted to play for either their adopted homeland or the place of their birth in Europe.

Some of these African football fans then have spent quite a bit of time wondering "what could have been" had some of these players opted to play for Nigeria instead of Austria, Cape Verde instead of Portugal, Guinea instead of France, or Ghana instead of Germany. And with the kind of talent that hails from many of these countries, it is only natural many are wishing that they would have chosen their birth nations or the land of their ancestors as opposed to a European country.

Without further ado, here's the list of players who have African roots. They are noted by the country they represented at Euro 2016 and then by where they were born or where their families hail from.

France

Paul Pogba (Guinea)

The Juventus star was born in France, but his family hails from Guinea. In fact, his twin elder brothers, Florentin and Mathias were born in Guinea and represent the Guinean national team

Blaise Matuidi (Angola) and Moussa Sissoko (Mali)

Matuidi (no. 14) who plies his trade for PSG, was born in France, but his father, Faria Rivelino, was born in Angola. Newcastle United midfielder Sissoko's family emigrated to France from Mail before the player was born

Samuel Umtiti (Cameroon)

Barcelona's new €25 million signing Umtiti was born in Cameroon, but moved to France as a toddler. He made his senior international debut for France during Les Bleus' 5-2 win over minnows Iceland

N'Golo Kanté (Mali)

Premier League winner Kanté was born in Paris, but the Leicester City man's parents are from Mali. The Malian football federation made repeated attempts to bring him on board until he opted to chooce his birth nation earlier this year

Adil Rami (Morocco)

Rami was born in Bastia - a city on the island of Corsica - to Moroccan parents and made his debut for Les Bleus in 2010

Steve Mandanda (DR Congo)

Experienced shot-stopper Mandanda, who has represented France at Euro 2008, Euro 2012, and the 2010 World Cup prior to this tournament, was born in Congo

Eliaquim Mangala (DR Congo)

Manchester City defender Mangala (no. 13) is another of several players at Euro 2016 of Congolese heritage, but unlike his teammate Mandanda, he was born in in France and was raised in Belgium

Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna (Senegal)

Both Evra (far left) and Sagna (no. 19) have Senegalese roots - Evra was born in Dakar and moved to France as an infant, whilst Sagna was born in Sens to Senagelese parents

  

Portugal

William Carvalho (Angola)

The 24-year-old Sporting CP defensive midfielder was born in Angola, and is representing Portugal for the second time at a major tournament since making his debut in 2013

Nani, Renato Sanches, João Mário, Eliseu (Cape Verde)

Nani and Renato Sanches are among some of Portugal's players who were either born in Cape Verde or have one or both parents hailing from the island nation

Danilo Pereira and Eder (Guinea-Bissau)

Danilo (no. 13) is one of two players within Portugal's squad to have ties to Guinea-Bissau


With the finalists covered, here are the other countries at Euro 2016 who have players either born in Africa or with African heritage.

Austria

David Alaba and Rubin Okotie (Nigeria)

Both Alaba and Okotie's fathers hail from Nigeria. However, Alaba and Okotie (far left and middle), who were born in Vienna and Karachi respectively, strongly identify as Austrian and proudly represented Austria at Euro 2016

Belgium

Divock Origi (Kenya)

Liverpool's Origi is the son of former Kenyan international Mike Origi, and was born and raised in Belgium

Moussa Dembélé and Marouane Fellaini (Mali and Morocco)

Premier League duo Dembélé (Tottenham) and Fellaini (Manchester United) both have ties to Mali and Morocco respectively through their parents

Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Jason Denayer, Christian Kabasele, Jordan Lukaku, Romelu Lukaku (DR Congo)

Belgium boasts a crop of players either directly from Congo or of Congolese heritage. For fans from that country, it must really disappoint that none of these players will ever feature in an AFCON tournament instead of a Euro competition. The Lukaku brothers are among this group

Czech Republic

Theodor Gebre Selassie (Ethiopia)

Gebre Selassie's father is a doctor from Ethiopia, whilst his mother is from the Czech Republic. In 2011, the defender, who features for Werder Bremen became the first player of African heritage to represent the country when he made his international debut in June

England

Dele Alli (Nigeria)

Tottenham starlet Dele Alli's father hails from Nigeria, and he briefly spent time living there in his early years. The promising youngster is one that Nigerian fans desperately would have wanted to feature for their national side

Germany

Jérôme Boateng (Ghana)

Bayern Munich star Boateng's father is from Ghana, whilst his mother is from Germany. His half-brother, Prince, featured for the Ghanaian national team at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and in 2010, they made history as the first brothers to ever play against each other at a World Cup

Sami Khedira (Tunisia)

Experienced midfielder Khedira, who currently plays for Juventus, has a Tunisian father and a German mother. His younger brother, Rani, featured for Germany's u-19 team back in 2012/2013

Leroy Sané (Senegal)

Sané comes from an athletic family. His father, Souleyman Sané, played as a striker for the Senegalese national team, whilst his German mother, Regina Weber, is a former gymnast. The 20-year-old has dual French and German citizenship

Jonathan Tah (Ivory Coast)

Tah, who was called up to replace the injured Antonio Rudiger at Euro 2016, plies his trade for Bayer Leverkusen. The 20-year-old defender's father is from the Ivory Coast and he was born in Hamburg

Italy

Stephan El Shaarawy (Egypt)

El Shaarawy, who plays his club football for Roma, is nicknamed il Faraone by Italian fans due to his father's Egyptian heritage

Angelo Ogbonna (Nigeria)

West Ham's Ogbonna, who previously played for Torino and Juventus, was part of Antonio Conte's squad at Euro 2016. He also was part of the Azzurri side during the Euro 2012 tournament, but did not play

 

Sweden

Martin Olsson (Kenya)

Olsson, who has a twin brother, Marcus, who also plays profesionally, was born in Galve, Sweden to a Swedish father and a Kenyan mother

 

Switzerland

Breel Embolo and François Moubandje (Cameroon)

Embolo (pictured below) and Moubandje were both born in Cameroon and moved to Switzerland as youngsters

Gelson Fernandes (Cape Verde) and Johan Djourou (Ivory Coast)

Both Fernandes and Djourou were born in Cape Verde and Ivory Coast respectively and play their international football for Switzerland

Denis Zakaria (DR Congo)

The young midfielder was born and raised in Switzerland by parents of Congolese heritage

Wales

Hal Robson-Kanu (Nigeria)

Robson-Kanu, who scored two great goals at Euro 2016, has a grandmother who comes from Wales. He's another player Nigerians would have desperately wanted in their side - especially after his brilliant Cruyff-esque turn to outwit three Belgian defenders en route to scoring the second goal for the Dragons during the quarter-finals

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