Three stars of Bafana Bafana’s quarter-final opponents Nigeria belong to a long list of players, who could lift this year’s Africa Cup of Nations after snubbing the chance to play for European nations.
Click through the gallery above to see some of the Afcon stars who played for European nations at youth level.
One of the most prominent names of the list of players, who represented European nations at youth level but opted to play for African countries, is Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi.
The nephew of Super Eagles legend Jay-Jay Okocha was born in Lagos but moved to England at the age of four. He came through Arsenal’s famous academy and represented England at U16, U17 and U18 level.
However, he opted to play for his birth country at senior level, making his Nigeria debut in October 2015. He has since featured in 33 appearances for Bafana’s quarter-final opponents and found the back of the net on six occasions. His latest goal in the 3-2 win over defending Afcon champions Cameroon booked his nation the ticket to the last eight.
Similar to Iwobi, Nigeria left-back Ola Aina also featured for England at youth level. The 22-year-old, who was born in England, played for England at U16, U17, U18, U19 and U20 level before pledging his international future to Nigeria back in 2017.
Iwobi and Aina teammate William Troost-Ekong, who was born in the Netherlands, played for the Dutch at U19 and U20 level before switching international allegiance to the birth country of his father.
Other players such as Senegal superstar Kalidou Koulibaly also feature on the list and you find more Africans, who are still in the tournament and have a chance to lift this year’s Afcon after snubbing European nations, in the gallery above.
Do you think more African nations should look for European players with African roots? Have your say in the comments section below.