August 3, 2021

five footballers that the African continent will follow closely

The selections qualified for the final phase of the Euro are numerous to include in their workforce at least one footballer of African origin. Some of them have also been courted by the federation of their parents’ country to compete in an African Cup of Nations (CAN). But it is the colors of England, Belgium, Germany, France or Switzerland that they will defend during the European tournament which will take place from June 11 to July 11. Some have already acquired a certain reputation at the international level while others, less exposed, could take advantage of the event to make up for this lack of notoriety.

Bukayo Saka (England)

England's Bukayo Saka in a match against Austria on June 2, 2021.

England expected Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate to call seasoned Jesse Lingard (28, 29 caps) rather than young Bukayo Saka (19). But the technician preferred to surprise by retaining the second, born in the great London suburb of Nigerian parents and a time approached by the Nigerian Football Federation to join the Super Eagles. Saka, England international since October 2020, thanked Southgate for his confidence by scoring the only goal of the friendly against Austria on June 2.

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An effective way to mitigate the noisy questions from some of the supporters and some columnists on the presence of this “kid” in the list of 26 players called to play the Euro. With his five Premier League goals, the carefree striker was one of the few Arsenal players – where he was trained – to survive a complicated season. The supporters of the Gunners also voted him the club’s best player in 2020-2021.

Romelu Lukaku (Belgique)

Belgian Romelu Lukaku in a match against Greece on June 3, 2021.

At 28, Romelu Lukaku is no longer a young first. His record with the Red Devils speaks for himself: 60 goals in 93 caps. And at a time when Belgium is perceived as one of the favorites of the Euro, the presence of this striker of a rare power consolidates this status. Italian champion with Inter Milan and author of 24 goals in Serie A, Lukaku has plenty to keep. His father, Roger, a former Congolese international born in Kinshasa, had an honest career, mainly in Belgium, but also in Turkey.

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But if the latter was a training midfielder, Romelu is a born scorer, with surgical precision. Wherever he has gone – except Chelsea – this polyglot (he speaks seven languages, including Swahili) has always confirmed his talents for surface terror, whether at Anderlecht, West Bromwich Albion, Everton or Manchester United. Belgium are counting on him to win the first title in its history.

Leroy Sané (Germany)

Germany's Leroy Sané in a match against Denmark on June 2, 2021.

The German international Leroy Sané (25 years old, 30 caps) has a rare first name, straight out of the imagination of his father, Souleymane, married to the German gymnast Regina Weber, Olympic medalist in 1984 in Los Angeles. The latter, a former striker for the Senegal team, has great admiration for Claude Le Roy, who was his coach. When his son was born in 1996, he decided to call him Leroy, in homage to the French technician – who would not learn it until years later.

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Since then, the attacking midfielder has decided to play for Germany in 2015, while he also has Senegalese and French nationality (his father has indeed obtained a French passport) and could have defended the colors of the Lions of the Teranga or the Blues. The ” National team “ don’t complain about it. This pure left-hander, more passer than scorer, returned to Germany in June 2020 – to Bayern Munich – after four rather convincing seasons at Manchester City, for a transfer estimated at 45 million euros.

Wissam Ben Yedder (France)

Frenchman Wissam Ben Yedder during a match against Andorra, September 10, 2019.

For years, the Tunisian Football Federation tried to convince Wissam Ben Yedder, whose family is from Djerba, to wear the Carthage Eagles jersey. But in 2018, the current AS Monaco striker became a French international. Wherever he has played, in Toulouse or Sevilla, Ben Yedder, 30, has always displayed impressive consistency in his personal statistics. This right-hander – almost as skillful with his left foot – played a lot of futsal in his youth. This allows him to be comfortable in small spaces and to play all offensive positions.

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In the France team, where he has thirteen selections and two goals, Ben Yedder is more often a substitute than a holder. This will still be the case during the Euro, where Didier Deschamps will bet, except cataclysm, on the trio Benzema-Mbappé-Griezmann that the whole world, it seems, envies him. But the Monegasque, considered altruistic and good comrade, will at one time or another have the opportunity to show himself, especially if the course of the Blues were to stretch over time.

Denis Zakaria (Switzerland)

Switzerland's Denis Zakaria in a match against Georgia on March 23, 2019.

The Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder (Germany) is the perfect example of a Swiss selection which is one of the most cosmopolitan of the 24 finalists. Denis Zakaria, 24, was born in Geneva to a South Sudanese mother and a Congolese father. He could have played for one of these two countries, but his choice quickly fell on Switzerland, one of the fifteen best European selections, whose presence in the final stages of major competitions (World Cup and Euro) cannot be denied. not since 2004.

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Trained at Servette de Genève and then revealed to the Young Boys of Berne, he is today one of the very good players in the Bundesliga and, as such, naturally coveted by clubs with means greater than those of Borussia. An essential link in the Swiss selection, Denis Zakaria, as relaxed in life as he is combative in the field, has always affirmed his attachment to his African ancestry, in particular by going to the DRC and to his mother’s native village, in South Sudan. , of which he speaks a local dialect.