When the colonists came to Africa, they did not only plunder our resources underground and over ground, they also plundered our human resources. In sporting terms, some of the greatest ever football player in any era, are of African stock, some who were born in Europe and others born on the African Continent and had a choice to make whether to play for their ancestral countries or their country of birth. This week we pick 10 of the very best.
10. Jerome Boateng,
Born in Berlin to a German mother and a Ghanaian father, the younger half-brother of the two famous footballing brothers, won the World Cup in Germany in 2014, while his half-brother Kevin Prince represented Ghana at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It must be said that Kevin Prince also represented Germany at youth level before switching allegiances and committing to the Ghana’s black stars. Jerome, who currently plays his club football for Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, is still pretty much a key influence for Germany as they will be bidding to win back to back World Cup victories in Russia next year.
9. Mario Balotelli,
Born Mario Barwuah in Palermo to Ghanaian parents, is one of the most talented forwards of his generation. With a better attitude, he could be playing for any of the top five teams in the world instead of Nice in the French Ligue 1, where he is resurrecting his career. The story goes that his parents “gave him” up for adoption to the rich white family ‘ The Balotellis’. He led Italy to the finals of the 2012 Euro Championship. He has 33 caps and 13 goals for the Azzuri.
8. Ugo Ehiogu,
Ehiogu died in April at the age of 44 after suffering a heart attack was the first black player to captain England in a competitive match in 1993 in an Under 21 match, he went on to win four caps with the senior national team. Ehiogu, who was born in London ironically received his first England call up against Nigeria, his family’s country of origin. The big centre-half had lengthy spells in the Premier League with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
7. Patrice Evra,
He will forever be remembered for the ‘Knysna debacle’ during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when as captain of the French National team he led the training boycott handing over a list of grievances before an aborted training session. He was made the fall guy by the French media, but subsequent coaches have kept him in the French side owing to his experience, talent and leadership. The Senegalese born fullback who arrived in France when he was just a year old has amassed over 80 caps for Les Blues. He made his name at AS Monaco before joining Manchester United and later Juventus, he is currently at Olympique Marseille.
6. Jean Tigana,
The ‘water carrier’ as such type of midfielders are known, was born in Bamako, in what was then known as ‘French Sudan’. The 1984 French player of the year, was one of the best midfielders of his generation with a colorful club career playing for the likes of Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille. He won the 1984 Euro Championship with France playing alongside the likes of Michel Platini. In the 8 years he spent with the National team, he reached the semifinals of the 1982, 86 World Cups.
The 1970, 73, Portuguese footballer of the year, was born in Maputo, Mozambique and is considered one of the greatest footballer of time. Eusebio helped Portugal to finish in 3rd place at the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England. He scored 41 goals in 61 appearances.
4. Claude Makelele,
Born in Kinshasa, DRC, he played for 13 years representing France at two World Cups, 2002 and 2006. He formed a formidable partnership in midfield with Patrick Viera. Makelele starred for some of the top teams in Europe such as Marseille, Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid where he also won the Champions League. He also presented France at the 1996 Olympic Games.
3. Patrick Viera,
The Senegalese born midfield powerhouse is considered one of the finest midfielders of his generation. Viera earned a staggering 107 caps for France, featuring in the team that won the 1998 World Cup on home soil and the 2000 Euro championship. He was also a member of the French side that finished runners up to Italy at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
2. Marcel Desailly,
Born in Accra, Ghana, Desailly was a defensive pillar for the French team on their way to winning the 1998 World Cup and the Euro’s two years later. In 2001 he was appointed captain of the national team following the retirement of skipper Didier Deschamps and he led the team to the Confederations Cup victory.
1. Zinedine Zidane,
Born to Algerian parents in the coastal city of Marseille on the South of France, ‘Zizou’ is probably one the most decorated players of any generation. He scored two goals for France in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil to win the title, and two years later inspired the team to another victory in the Euro’s where he was voted the best player of the tournament. He was also named FIFA World player of the year three times, 1998, 2000, 2003. His success has continued as a coach, where he has won back-to-back Champions League victories with Real Madrid, including the league title in the 2016/17 season.