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14 Afcon 2019 Stars Who Were Not Born In Africa

Bafana Bafana's Lars Veldwijk is not the only Europe-born player taking part in this year's Africa Cup of Nations – in fact, some of the tournament's biggest stars were born outside of Africa, including the continent's most expensive player ever.

Click through the gallery above to see some of the Afcon stars who were not born in Africa.

The African diaspora has reached far and wide across the world as was shown when more than half of France's 2018 FIFA World Cup winners had African origins.

Players such Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and even 1998 World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane have roots in Africa, to name just a few. As a consequence, it will not surprise many that some of the stars at this year's Afcon were not actually born in Africa.

Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe, for example, who starred against Bafana Bafana earlier this week, was born in France to parents of Ivorian descent. The 24-year-old made his debut for the Elephants in 2016, coincidently against his birth country France, and has represented the Ivory Coast on 10 occasions since.

Watch: The African Bundesliga Stars At The AFCON

Morocco playmaker Hakim Ziyech, who starred for Ajax Amsterdam this past season, was born in the Netherlands. His decision to represent Morocco, his father's birth country, made international headlines when then Dutch assistant coach Marco van Basten publicly slammed him for it.

"How stupid can you be to choose Morocco if you are in contention for the Dutch national team?" Van Basten said in May 2016, as quoted by The Guardian, after hearing that Ziyech had decided to represent the Atlas Lions.

Ziyech came through the Dutch youth ranks, representing the Netherlands at U19, U20 and U21 level. He even received a Netherlands call-up in May 2015, but was injured and could not play. Just four months later, he announced he would play for Morocco, and has since represented the African nation 23 times, scoring 12 goals.

Read: AFCON Heartbreak XI: Dolly, Katsande, Khune & Co.

Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is another world-class player who switched his allegiances. He was born in France and even represented the European nation at the 2011 FIFA U20 World Cup. However, in September 2015, he decided to play for his parents' birth country Senegal, and has done so 32 times since.

Similar to Ziyech, Bafana's Veldwijk was born in the Netherlands. He received his first call-up to the South African national team in October 2016, making his debut in a 1-1 draw with Mozambique. However, it took the Sparta Rotterdam striker another two and a half years before he would get his second South Africa cap, against Libya in March.

You can find more Afcon stars who were not born in Africa, including Africa's most expensive player ever in Riyad Mahrez, in the gallery above!

Do you think South Africa should look for more Europe-born players with roots in Mzansi? Have your say in the comments section below.

 

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