With as much 323 players registered for the ongoing Euro 2016 Championships, PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at five players of Nigerian descent in France with their ‘adopted’ countries.
The players are joined by compatriots of African heritage to make up close to 14% of the total players in France for this year’s Euro championships.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, with 9 players, has the highest representation, with the bulk of this group playing for former colonial masters, Belgium.
Dele Alli (England)
Alli was born and raised in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, to a Yoruba Nigerian father Kenny and English mother Denise.
Nigeria football officials with help from former Wimbledon star John Fashanu made frantic efforts to get the midfielder play for the Super Eagles but that chase ended when the Spurs star made his England debut in 2015.
Before then, Alli played for England’s U17, U18 and U19 teams. The 20-year-old starred in the Three Lions 1-1 draw against Russia in Marseille.
Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales)
Robson-Kanu confirms he indeed has Nigerian heritage but has never regretted his decision to pledge his allegiance to Wales even ahead of his country of birth England which he played for in the U-19 and U-20 category.
Robson-Kanu switched allegiance to Wales, the country of his grandmother, playing for the under-21 side before his debut for the senior team against Croatia on 23 May that year. He scored his first senior international goal against Scotland in March 2013 and has also opened his account in Euro 2016, scoring the winner against Slovakia.
David Alaba (Austria)
Alaba is seen as the poster boy for Austrian football. He was born in Vienna to the family of George and Gino Alaba.
His father is a DJ and rapper in Austria who is amazingly a prince from Ogere, Ogun State, South West Nigeria. The father also doubled as his manager, while his mother is from Philippines.
Presently doing great with German giants, Bayern Munich, Alaba claimed he was never looked at by Nigerian officials when he coveted playing for the Super Eagles.
Rubin Okotie (Austria)
Already with a substitute appearance at the Euro 216, Okotie was born in Pakistan to a Nigerian father and an Austrian mother.
Okotie spent the first four years of his life in the Spanish city of Barcelona.
As a result of his multinational background he was eligible to represent three countries at national level, namely Austria, Nigeria and Pakistan but he settled for Austria and at the moment has made 10 appearances.
Angelo Ogbonna (Italy)
Ogbonna is not a super regular for the Italian national side but a very reliable talent that also had a very successful club year with West Ham in the English premier league.
The 28-year-old defender was born to Nigerian parents who hail from Owerri West in Imo State but immigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1983, settling in the city of Cassino in the central part of the country.
Ogbonna managed to obtain Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday and according to close family sources, he wanted to play for Nigeria but was not given the chance back then.
Below are the other players of African heritage at Euro 2016.
William Carvalho (Portugal) and Blaise Matuidi (France).
Breel Embolo (Switzerland), Francois Moubandje (Switzerland) and Samuel Umtiti (France).
Eliseu (Portugal), Gelson Fernandez (Switzerland), Joao Mario
(Portugal), Luis Nani (Portugal) and Renato Sanchez (Portugal).
COTE D VOIRE
Johan Djourou (Switzerland) and Jonathan Tah (Germany).
Stephen El Shaarawy (Italy).
Theodor Gebre Selassie (Czech Republic).
Jerome Boateng (Germany).
Paul Pogba (France).
Danilo Pereira and Eder (Portugal).
Martin Olsson (Sweden)
Divock Origi (Belgium).
Moussa Dembele (Belgium),
Ngolo Kante (France)
Moussa Sissoko (France).
Marouane Fellaini (Belgium),
Adil Rami (France).
CONGO DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Michy Batshuayi (Belgium),
Christian Benteke (Belgium)
Jason Denayer (Belgium)
Christian Kabasele (Belgium)
Jordan Lukaku (Belgium),
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium),
Steve Mandanda (France),
Eliaquim Mangala (France)
Denis Zakaria (Switzerland)
Patrice Evra (France),
Bacary Sagna (France)
Leroy Sane (Germany).
Sami Khedira (Germany).