TOI takes a look at some of the goalscorers now harboring the hopes of their ‘adopted’ countries:
BUKAYO SAKA (ENG): The Arsenal striker’s parents are from Ogun State in Nigeria, who left the African country to settle in London in search of a better life before Saka was born. Interestingly, Bukayo is a name commonly used by the Yoruba tribe of southwestern Nigeria.
RAHEEM STERLING (NL): Born in Kingston to Jamaican parents, Sterling moved to London at the age of five. When the current Chelsea striker was a young boy, his father was shot in an ambush. No wonder his mother had to make the decision to take him and his sister Lakima to leave Kingston and move to London.
MARCUS RASHFORD (NL): The Manchester United striker made headlines for his charitable work by providing meals to poor children during the coronavirus pandemic. But like his England teammate Sterling, Rashford too is of Caribbean descent, with his grandmother coming from the island of St. Kitts.
TIMOTHY WEAH (UNITED STATES): What George Weah – the president of Liberia and the only African player to win the World Footballer, European and African Footballer of the Year awards – couldn’t, his son Timothy realized that dream by scoring for the USA in his debut at the World Cup. George won the Ballon d’Or five years after Timothy was born in Brooklyn in 1995. He was eligible to play for four countries — Timothy eventually settled in the US.
KYLIAN MBAPPE (FRANCE): If France is the ultimate melting pot of football talent with roots in Africa and beyond, then Mbappé is definitely the face of this merger. His father (Wilfried) is from Cameroon and his mother (Fayza Lamari) was a handball player from Algeria. When Kylian was born in Paris in December 1998, five months after Zinedine Zidane & Co.’s victory. at the World Cup, there was perhaps only one destination his destiny could take him to.
ILKAY GUNDOGAN (GER): Ikay Gundogan was born in 1990 in Gelsenkirchen from Turkish parents. IIkay’s grandfather used to live in Balikesir in Turkey, but moved to Germany to work as a miner. Around 1979, the rest of his family, including Ilkay’s father Irfan, moved to Germany.
MICHY BATSHUAYI (BELGIUM): Given the African roots of his parents (Pino Batshuayi and Viviane Leya Iseka), the Belgian striker could have played for the Democratic Republic of Congo at international level. Born in Brussels in 1993, Michy was once named on the provisional roster of the Congolese national team in 2013. But having already represented Belgium’s Under-21 side, he made it clear in 2015 that he would only play for the red Devilish.