Although the Euros are all about European football, players with African heritage have been involved in the tournament. In fact, at Euro 2020, more than 8% of all the 622 players had African roots. That's more than 50 players!
What's even more interesting is that of those 50+ players, quite a few are global superstars. And many of them have been brilliant at the tournament!
Top Euro 2020 Favorites Relying On Players With African Origin
Ahead of the start of the tournament, France was the #1 favourite, with odds in the ballpark of 5/1. Things have changed as the tournament progressed, so if you'd like to check updated odds, it's best to visit the website of Sportingbet or some other reputable sportsbook.
The reason behind this is that France has been probably the most dominant national team on the planet over the last couple of years. Five years ago, they finished as runners-up at Euro 2020, after losing to Portugal in the final. Fast-forward to 2018, and they've finally grabbed a trophy, an even bigger one – the 2018 World Cup!
The fact that France has been such a successful team should come as no surprise to anyone who's taken a look at their squad. It's packed with superstars, many of whom can trace back their roots to Africa.
Some of France's key men, including Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante, and Kylian Mbappe are of African origin.
Pogba's parents are originally from Guinea, which is the country for whose national team Paul's two brothers play. France's midfield engine Kante is a son of Malian parents, who migrated to Paris in the 1980s. Mbappe's dad is originally from Cameroon, while his mother is of Algerian origin.
There are 13 other members of the France national team that have some links with Africa, including Marcus Thuram, Kingsley Coman, and Karim Benzema.
Other Title Contenders Also Rely On Players With African Roots
Belgium's goal-scoring machine Romelu Lukaku was born in Belgium to Congolese parents. In fact, his father Roger Lukaku represented the national team of Congo (then known as Zaire) back in the 1990s. The mom of his teammate Youri Tielemans is from the same country.
Over in the Portugal squad, Nelson Semedo, Renato Sanchez, and a few others can trace their roots to Cape Verde. Further, Portugal's 6'2 ball-winning midfielder William Carvalho was born in Angola.
It's a similar case when the Dutch national team is concerned, where several players have at least one African parent. Memphis Depay's father, for example, is from Ghana.
Pretty much the same goes for the players playing for England, Germany, and many others.
Only A Couple Of Nigeria-Origin Players Got To Euro 2020
Guinea, Mali, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Congo, Ghana – there are at least a couple of Euro 2020 players with roots tracing to those African countries.
What is surprising is that Nigeria isn't on that list. The most populous African country is famous for the amount of footballing talent that emerged there before achieving glory on the global stage.
However, as it turns out, most of them want to play for their national team. Rather than choosing to represent the country where they reside, many Nigerian football players have decided to represent their country of origin.
Of course, there are also some examples of players who did just the opposite. Probably the best example is David Alaba, who's playing for Austria.
The new Real Madrid man was instrumental for Austria in their effort to get to Round of 16, where they got defeated by Italy in extra time.
Best XI Euro 2020 Players Of African Origin
David Alaba's performances for Austria in June would make him a key player in a Euro 2020 team made up of players with African heritage. He'd probably have to take the left-back position rather than being in the centre of the defensive line.
It's not because that position seems to suit him the best, but also because Germany's Rudiger and France's Kimpembe would fit those slots. Then, on the right, Portugal's Nelson Semedo would have the full-back's role.
The four would be in front of Yvon Mvogo, who moved ranks in the Swiss national team, eventually getting a chance to be their first-choice goalie.
In the midfield, it would have to be two Frenchmen with African roots – N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. The third slot would probably go to Belgium's Youri Tielemans.
Up in the front, we'd probably see Kylian Mbappe on one flank and Memphis Depay on the other. Finally, the man closest to the opposition goal would have to be Romelu Lukaku.