Here’s a look at some big African stars that opted to play for a European national team, rather than the country of their heritage.
Patrick Vieira (Senegal – France)
Born in Senegal, Vieira moved to France when he was just eight years old. His father is Senegalese and his mother is from Cape Verde. An interesting fact is that Vieira’s grandfather served in the French army, making the former Arsenal legend eligible for the national team. Vieira played 107 times for France in his long and illustrious career.
Mario Balotelli (Ghana – Italy)
Almost seven years ago Balotelli was called up to represent Ghana, as his parents are both Ghanaian-born, but he refused as he was waiting for Italy to give him the nod. Arguably one of the most controversial characters in world football, the Liverpool forward has scored 13 times for Italy in 33 appearances.
Jerome Boateng (Ghana – Germany)
Although Bayern Munich’s towering central-defender was born and raised in Germany’s capital, Boateng comes from a home of a Ghanaian father. Boateng excelled at youth level for Germany, as did his brother, Kevin-Prince – who opted to rather represent Ghana.
Luis Nani (Cape Verde – Portugal)
He has represented Portugal 82 times and has scored 15 senior national team goals, but the player, who is currently on loan at Sporting Lisbon from Manchester United, was born in Cape Verde in 1986.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Tunisia – France)
Unlike his father, who played for Tunisia, the skilful midfielder was approached to represent the African country at the 2006 World Cup, but turned the offer down as he wanted to pursue an international career with France. He has since only appeared 13 times for the French senior national team, with many coaches and players alike questioning his lack of discipline.
Danny Welbeck (Ghana – England)
Funnily enough, the ex-Manchester United player made his debut for England against Ghana in 2011 – the nation who he could’ve chosen to play for. Although he was born and raised in England, Welbeck’s parents are both Ghanaian. The Arsenal forward’s full name is Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck and he has played 31 games for England, scoring 12 goals.