x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

African Cup of Nations: Five players in Africa v Europe eligibility rows

A host of top players have found their loyalties divided between European and African nations.

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, on loan at West Bromwich Albion, turned down the Democratic Republic of Congo to play for Belgium.
Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, on loan at West Bromwich Albion, turned down the Democratic Republic of Congo to play for Belgium.

As Ian Hawkey details, a host of top players have found their loyalties divided between European and African nations when it comes to declaring international eligibility.  Here are five of the most notable.

Mario Balotelli - Ghana v Italy
Ghanaian officials worked hard at trying to convince Mario Barwuah, as he was born, the son of Ghanaians, in Sicily 22 years ago, to play for the Black Stars. Balotelli, adopted by Italians as a child, chose Italy's Azzurri.


Romelu Lukaku - DR Congo v Belgium
Lukaku, signed by Chelsea from Anderlecht, is the son of Roger Lukaku, the former Zaire international. On the advice of his father, who often found international duty unrewarding, Romelu turned down overtures from Democratic Republic of Congo, as Zaire is now known as, to play instead for Belgium where he was born and grew up.


Sean Dundee - South Africa v Germany
The striker left South Africa at 19 to try his luck as a professional in Germany. Dundee had gained German citizenship by the time he was about to make his South Africa debut, against Germany. He suddenly pulled out with injury, apparently advised he might be called up by the Germans one day. He only ever won a B cap for Germany.


Emmanuel Olisadebe - Nigeria v Poland
The Nigerian-born striker moved to Poland to pursue a career in the sport as a teenager, an usual path in the late 1990s. He qualified for citizenship after three years, and Poland selected him to spearhead their 2002 World Cup campaign, amid mutterings of betrayal from West Africa.


Rio Mavuba - DR Congo, Angola v France
Born at sea, after his Angolan mother and Congolese father left war-torn equatorial Africa by boat for Europe. As a young midfielder Mavuba was courted by three countries, persistently by DR Congo, but opted to play for France.