The 82 ‘foreigners’ of the Eurocup

“Nobody is a prophet in their own land”. This saying, of biblical origin, makes full sense in Euro 2024. Up to 82 footballers -17 more than in the last edition- They will represent a team different from that of their place of birth.

It is true that, to be strict, not all are “nationalized.” What’s more, there are border cases. Never better said. Only four of the 24 teams (Austria, Czechia, Denmark and the Netherlands) do not have ‘foreigners’ -understand- in their ranks.


Up to 15 players born on German soil will compete in the Euro with a team… that is not the ‘Mannschaft’. Curious. Above all, because some -Orban (Hungary), Samardzic (Serbia) and Stanisic (Croatia) – played with Germany in the youth ranks.

The case that touches us most closely is that of Joselu. Spain’s ‘9’ was born in Stuttgart. “My parents worked there for 22 years. I returned when I was three, I didn’t go to school.”and I always feel very proud to be from Silleda,” he confesses.

My parents spent 22 years working in Germany. I came back with three, I didn’t get to go to school there


Waldemar Anton It is the opposite case. He will represent Germany… despite having been born and lived in Uzbekistan until he was two years old. What’s more, his original name was Wladimir. “I speak Russian and Uzbek,” he admits.


The war created a complicated geographical situation in the Balkans, with countless emigrants spread throughout the world. Albania is the perfect portrait. Only seven of the 26 called up were born in the country: Gjasula, Laçi, Muçi, Asllani, Hysaj, Kastrati and Manaj.

The rest come from Switzerland, North Macedonia, Germany, Kosovo… “The idea is not to repatriate, it is to train. Grow, go to the European Championship, try to go to a World Cup. “Let those players who can choose opt for Albania, not for us to repatriate them,” he admits. Sylvinho.

The idea is that those players who can choose opt for Albania, not that we are going to repatriate them


To be honest, there is even a Spaniard: Iván Balliu. The Rayo winger, a native of Caldes de Malavella, will be La Roja’s rival: “They called me and asked me for my last name, because it is very typical. Then they started tracing and it turns out that my paternal family had Albanian rootss, something that I didn’t know because they lost contact.


Their potential best player, paradoxically, plays in Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri: “In 2012, when we played against Albania, I put the flags of Switzerland, Albania and Kosovo on my boots. Many people criticized me, but it is my identity. “Switzerland gave everything to my family and I try to give everything for the national team, but every time I go to Kosovo, I also feel at home.”


De la Fuente, in addition to Joselu, will count with the French ‘wall’ formed by Laporte and Le Normand. “If I play for Spain, my family will kill me“, admitted the Real Sociedad centre-back. However, ‘where he said I say, Diego said’: “I am French, and I am very proud, but I have really trained in LaLiga. “When I came here, when I was 18, I didn’t imagine this option.”

I am French, and I am very proud, but I have really trained in LaLiga

Robin Le Normand

Con Laporte There was also debate, but it was settled quickly: “My objective is the same as that of Spain. Nobody can doubt that I am going to give everything for this team.”

Laporte: “”Ugh, what a question, right? I’ll try to answer it in the best way possible…”


It is possible that, if they let him, Andriy Yarmolenko will delete Saint Petersburg from his birth certificate. “I grew up in Ukraine and consider myself 100% Ukrainian,” he asserts.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the former Borussia Dortmund and West Ham player cstrongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the inaction of Russian footballers: “In my country they kill people, women, children… and you don’t say or do anything. You have influence, show it. I ask you, please!”


It will make you cry. Several players who have changed sides know what it is like make his country of birth ‘bite the dust’.

Breel Embolo scored the winning goal for Switzerland against Cameroon (1-0) at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He didn’t celebrate it: “Having to choose between both countries was very hard. It is important for me not to forget where I come from. “I have a lot of friends in Cameroon, most of my family lives there, including my dad.”

Having to choose between both countries was very hard. It’s important for me not to forget where I come from.

Breel Embolo

Englishman Callum Styles can boast of having handed England their biggest defeat at home (0-4) since 1928. He could also have represented Ukraine… but he started for Hungary, beating the Magyars 3-6 in 1953: “I never thought I would face England and win the match. I’m trying to assimilate it”.


Loïc Négo y Georgiy Tsitaishvili, For example, they seek with Hungary and Georgia the glory they conquered with other countries in lower categories.

Négo was proclaimed European under-19 champion in 2010 with the France of Griezmann, Lacazette, Coquelin, Kakuta (MVP) and Bakambu“I’m glad to see old friends. France is my country, but Hungary is my home. “I have great respect for this shield.”he noted after facing Les Bleus at Euro 2020.

France is my country, but Hungary is my home. I have great respect for this shield

Loïc Négo

Tsitaishvili was born in Israel – his father, like Tsygankov, played there – but He was proclaimed under-20 world champion in 2019 with Andriy Lunin’s Ukraine. Of course, he resigned, almost immediately, in 2021: “When I stood out at Dinamo kyiv, they called me up with the Ukrainian youth teams, but my goal was to play with Georgia.”


Such a splinter. Tsitaishvili and Tsygankov are not the only ones who were born outside the country they represent… for following their parents’ careers.

In this sense, there are two illustrious surnames: Ianis Hagi was born in Istanbul while his father, Gica, played for Galatasaray and Marcus Thuram saw the light when his father, Lilian, soldier in Parma.

The same happens with the two other Spaniards who remain outside of La Roja: the Milinkovic-Savic brothers. Vanja was born in Orense and Sergej in Lérida while accompanying their parents’ careers: the former soccer player Nikola Milinkovic and the basketball player Milana Savic.


There are two names that are close to the mark. Mike Maignan was born in French Guiana, which has its own national team. It is not recognized by FIFA… but it is recognized by CONCACAF. However, the Milan goalkeeper – French for all intents and purposes – He opted for ‘Les Bleus’ and has been international from under-16 to senior level. His case is not unique. Florent Malouda and Bernard Lama, born in Guyana, have already represented France. What’s more, Malouda later played with the Caribbean team.

Another unique situation is that of Kieran Tierney. He was born on the Isle of Manwhich does not have an official selection: “I was born there. It’s strange, but I feel proud. I come back often.” I could choose between any of the ‘home nations’ (England, Northern Ireland, Wales…) and opted for Scotland.

I was born there. It’s strange, but I feel proud. I come back frequently

Kieran Tierney

In 2015 he did not rule out participate one day in the World Cup of the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA): “It could be. It’s something I would like to do.”


Rete means goal in Italian and Mateo Retegui opposes being the ‘9’ of the Azzurra… despite being born in Argentina. “If he plays for Italy, good luck to him. It makes no sense to think about whether he could be with us or not, because we were not convinced to call him up,” said Leo Scaloni.

“In Switzerland, 15 out of 20 are naturalized. In Belgium, France, Germany… the same thing happens. Many times they have taken away players that we have raised and we will do the same,” he warned. ManciniSpalletti’s predecessor.


Davide Piano

An experienced journalist with an insatiable curiosity for global affairs on newshubpro

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