- Football stars with African roots have dazzled spectators around the globe for some time now
- Beyond their prowess, players have embraced their heritage and proudly represent their roots
- From Bukayo Saka to Kylian Mbappe, Sports Brief digs into the African ancestry of footballers
In the vibrant world of football, there is a constellation of stars whose remarkable talent shines brightly, each with roots deeply embedded in the diverse continent of Africa.
These extraordinary athletes not only exhibit exceptional skills on the pitch but also carry the heritage and pride of their African ancestry.
Bukayo Saka (Nigeria)
Saka, one of the most impressive Arsenal players this season, truly stood out by achieving double-digit figures in both goals and assists, registering 14 goals and 11 assists. The exceptionally skilled young English talent with Nigerian heritage claimed the third spot on the Most Valuable Player list by CIES Football Observatory.
The English-born forward is currently winding down in Lagos, Nigeria, after a stellar campaign with the Gunners and could have represented the West African country instead of the land of his birth.
He opened up about how he came close to representing Nigeria a couple of years ago:
“I will tell you this. I was very close to playing for one of the youth teams in 2019. It was the wish of my father, but things happen, and you have to live with your decisions. I feel very much Nigerian, and nothing can change that.”
Paul Pogba (Cameroon)
Another A-list football icon who could have represented an African nation instead of his country of birth is 2018 World Cup winner, Paul Pogba. The Frenchman’s career might be fraught injuries lately but he could have donned the colours of Guinea.
His connection to the West African nation runs deep, as both his parents hail from Guinea. In June 2022, Pogba, accompanied by his entourage including the American-Senegalese singer, Akon, paid a respectful visit to the interim Guinean president, Mamadi Doubouya.
Antonio Rudiger (Sierra Leone)
Real Madrid defender, Antonio Rudiger was treated to a kingly reception upon his arrival in his mother’s homeland of Sierra Leone last year.
The German international headed to the West African country to launch his non-profit charity organization. His impact on Sierra Leone extends beyond his football career, as he has made significant contributions through his Non-governmental organization, the Antonio Rudiger Foundation, per Switsalone.
In 2020, he generously donated a substantial amount of USD 100,000 (SLL 1 billion) to enhance the country’s educational system. The foundation has been actively involved in various initiatives, including a collaboration with Big Shoe, aimed at supporting 11 children with physical challenges by providing them with medical operations.
Memphis Depay (Ghana)
Born to a Ghanaian father and a Dutch mother, Depay has established a consistent tradition of visiting the west African country during the summer for the past few years.
During his last visit to Ghana, the 29-year-old participated in a diverse range of activities, one of which involved meeting the esteemed leader of the nation, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, at the Jubilee House, stating after that his visit was divinely orchestrated.
“I came here with the mission to empower the kids who, in my opinion, don’t get looked after and that is deaf and blind, and so for me, I think God gave me a call to come and do that and be there for them. Give them opportunities and help them,” Depay told the President, as quoted by Ghanaweb.
Kylian Mbappe (Algeria/Cameroon)
As a key player for Paris Saint-Germain and the French national team, Mbappe has already achieved numerous accolades and is considered one of the most promising talents in the world of football.
Despite his African ancestry, with a Cameroonian father and Algerian mother, the 24-year-old sensation chose to represent France.
Nevertheless, he remains connected to his African heritage, as evidenced by his trips to Algeria and Morocco, embracing his roots along the way.