CLOSE-UP: Five ‘Nigerian’ players at Euro 2016

A total of 43 players with African links are currently participating in the ongoing European football championship in France.

Most of the players were either born in the European countries or they migrated there in search of greener pastures.

Five of these players are Nigerian.

DAVID OLATOKUNBO ALABA

David Alaba

Alaba changed into born in Vienna to Gina and George Alaba and has one sister. His mom emigrated from the Philippines to work as a nurse. His Nigerian father is a prince from Ogere within the south west; he is likewise a rapper and works as a DJ. He is a Christian and a member of the 7th-day Adventist Church.

Alaba performed for Austria on the U-17, U-19 and U-21 degrees. In October 2009, he become known as as much as the senior Austria countrywide team for a in shape towards France. He made his debut in this recreation, making him the youngest-ever participant inside the the Austrian national crew.

He scored his first goal for Austria on October 16, 2012 in a international Cup Qualifying game at domestic to Kazakhstan in which Austria were four–0 winners.

BAMIDELE JERMAINE ALLI

Dele Alli

Dele Alli was born and raised in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, to a Nigerian father Kenny and English mother Denise.

Alli has made several appearances at U17 and U18 levels for England.

On August 27, 2014, Alli was called up to the England U19 squad following an impressive start to the campaign, making his debut in the 1–1 draw against Germany U19. In the game, Alli assisted the opening goal, feeding a through ball to Bradley Fewster, who gave England a 1–0 lead.

In February 2015, it was reported that John Fashanu would try to convince Alli to play for Nigeria. However, on October 1 of that year, he was included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the final EUFA Euro 2016 qualifying matches against Estonia and Lithuania.

He made his debut against the former on October 9, coming on as a late substitute for Ross Barkley in a 2–0 win.

ANGELO OBINZE OGBONNA

Angelo Ogbonna

Angelo Ogbonna born, May 23, 1988, is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a centre back for West Ham United and the Italian national team.

Ogbonna was born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1983, settling in the city of Cassino in the central part of the country, but managing to obtain Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday.

On August 12, 2009, he made his debut with the Italian under-21 team in a friendly against Russia.

He made his senior debut on November 11, 2011, in a friendly won 2–0 against Poland, where he came on as substitute for Domenico Criscito in the 77th minute.

Ogbonna was included in the Italian 23-man final squad for Euro 2012 but did not play during the competition.

In May 2016, Ogbonna was included in the provisional 30-man Italy squad for Euro 2016. On May 3, 2016, he was named in Conte’s final 23-man squad for the tournament.

RUBIN RAFAEL OKOTIE

Rubin Okotie

Rubin Okotie, born June 6, 1987, is an Austrian professional footballer currently playing as a striker for German 2. Bundesliga side 1860 Munich.

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 is eligible to represent three countries at national level; Austria, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Okotie identifies himself primarily as Austrian, stating in an interview with FIFA: “I live there, it’s where I have my friends, and I think of myself as Austrian.”

Currently a member of the Austrian national football team, he has played for the country at under-19-level in the 2006 European championships in Poland and under-20 level in the 2007 World Cup in Canada. He scored twice at the latter tournament, helping his side reach the semi-finals.

In the UEFA 2016 qualifier, where Austria finished its group in first place, he scored the deciding goals against Russia and Montenegro.

THOMAS ‘HAL’ ROBSON-KANU

Robson Kanu

Thomas Robson-Kanu, born May 21, 1989, is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a winger.

He is currently unattached, and also plays for the Wales national team. Although he primarily plays on the wing, he has occasionally been used as a striker.

Robson-Kanu initially represented England, the country of his birth, at international level, making his debut for the under-19 side against Germany in November 2007. He made a second appearance against Croatia the following year, before winning one cap for the England under-20s against Montenegro in 2009.

In 2010, he switched allegiance to Wales, for which he qualifies through his grandmother. He was first selected in the Wales under-21 squad for the friendly against Austria on May 18, 2010, and made his debut in a 1–0 defeat.

Robson-Kanu’s first cap for the senior team came just five days later, coming on as a second-half substitute for Robert Earnshaw in a 2–0 loss to Croatia. He continued to play for the under-21’s after his senior debut and made a further three appearances, scoring twice, his last appearance coming in a defeat to Italy, which ended Wales’ hopes of qualifying for the European Under-21 football championships. He scored his first senior international goal on March 22, 2013, in a 2–1 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland at Hampden park.

Robson-Kanu played nine games in Wales’ successful qualification campaign for UEFA Euro 2016, scoring on October 13, 2014 in their 2–1 home win over Cyprus. After being selected for the final tournament in France, he came on as a 71st-minute substitute in place of Jonny Williams during their opener against Slovakia on June 11, and scored the winner in a 2–1 victory.

Below are other players with African roots registered for the championship:

ANGOLA: William Carvalho (Portugal), Blaise Matuidi (France).

CAMEROUN: Breel Embolo (Switzerland), Francois Moubandje (Switzerland), Samuel Umtiti (France).
CAPE-VERDE: Eliseu (Portugal), Gelson Fernandez (Switzerland), Joao Mario (Portugal), Luis Nani, Renato Sanchez (Portugal).
COTE D’VOIRE: Johan Djourou (Switzerland), Jonathan Tah (Germany).
EGYPT: Stephen El Shaarawy (Italy).
ETHIOPIA: Theodor Gebre, Selassie (Czech Republic).
GHANA: Jerome Boateng (Germany).
GUINEA: Paul Pogba (France)
GUINEA-BISSAU: Danilo Pereira and Eder (Portugal).
KENYA: Martin Olsson (Sweden), Divock Origi (Belgium).
MALI: Moussa Dembele (Belgium), Ngolo Kante (France), Moussa Sissoko (France).
MOROCCO: Marouane Fellaini (Belgium), Adil Rami (France).
CONGO DR: Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Jason Denayer, Christian Kabasele, Jordan Lukaku, Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Steve Mandanda, Eliaquim Mangala (France), Denis Zakaria (Switzerland).
SENEGAL: Patrice Evra, Bacary Sagna (France), Leroy Sane (Germany).

TUNISIA: Sami Khedira (Germany).

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