The World Cup’s Foreign-Born Players

4 Jun

Nationality has never been as simple as where you were born. After all, World Cup ’66 top scorer Eusebio was born in Mozambique and mainstays of the England 1990 World Cup squad Terry Butcher and John Barnes were born in Singapore and Jamaica respectively. This World Cup is no different to previous editions in this regard with dozens of players competing for countries they were not born in. We at Twinty Tin believe we’ve tracked down all seventy-one of them and will present the findings here (full statistics can be found at the bottom of the article).

There are eight nations at this World Cup who feature an entire squad list of players who were born within the borders of that country. Spain and England, having excluded defensive midfielders Marco Senna (born Brazil) and Owen Hargreaves (born Canada) respectively make the list, as do Honduras, Argentina, Slovakia, Uruguay and the Brazilians.

The country that features the most foreign born players is Algeria who have included no less than seventeen French born players in their World Cup squad. That means an incredible three quarters of their squad will have been born outside of Algeria and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they could field a line up at the World Cup featuring no Algerian born players.

One of the most interesting stories from this subject area is the story of Kevin Prince-Boateng who is representing Ghana despite being born in Germany. Not only was he born in Berlin, but Prince-Boateng represented German youth sides on more than thirty occasions from U15 level all the way up to the U21s. If that wasn’t enough of a snub for the Germans to take, during this year’s FA Cup Final the Ghana midfielder caused an injury that  has led to German captain Michael Ballack missing this summer’s World Cup. The final group game between the two sides could be an interesting one in Johannesburg where there will almost certainly be something riding on the game for the Ghanains.

Moving to Asia, both flavours of Korea include foreign born players. Perhaps most surprisingly the ultra-secretive Stalanist state North Korea include two Japanese born ethnic Koreans (ominously given the last two squad numbers 22 and 23) who opted to play for the North after having their schooling funded by the North Korean Government. Japanese-born Jong Tae-Se is probably the North Koreans best hope of achieving anything in this year’s competition is in good form having scored two cracking goals against Greece in a friendly last week.

The South include the familiar name of German-born fullback Cha-Du-Ri in their roster, he was born in Germany because his father, also an international footballer with South Korea, was playing for Eintracht Frankfurt at the time. In fact, the pair apparently offered ‘colour commentary’ for South Korean TV during the last World Cup. It sounds great until you realise in the UK our version would literally be Jamie and Harry Redknapp…..

Country Foreign born players
Algeria 17 – Madjid Bougherra, Nadir Belhadj, Antar Yahia, Yazid Mansouri, Ryad Boudebouz, Medhi Lacen, Abdelkader Ghezzal, Rafik Djebbour, Habib Bellaïd, Karim Matmour, Carl Medjani, Karim Ziani, Adlène Guedioura, Hassan Yebda, Foued Kadir, Djamel Abdoun and Raïs M’Bohli (all France)
Portugal 6 – Deco, Pepe, Liédson (Brazil), Danny Miguel (Venezuela), Nani – (Cape Verde) and Daniel Fernandes (Canada)
Switzerland 5 – Valon Behrami, Albert Bunjaku, Xherdan Shaqiri (Kosovo), Blaise Nkufo (DR Congo) and Gelson Fernandes (Cape Verde)
Cameroon 4 – Benoît Assou-Ekotto, Sébastien Bassong (both France) and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Joël Matip (both Germany)
Germany 4 – Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose (both Poland), Cacau (Brazil) and Marko Marin (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
New Zealand 4 – Tim Brown, Dave Mulligan, Tommy Smith (all England) and Shane Smeltz (Germany)
Chile 3 – Jorge Valdivia (Venezuela), Mark González (South Africa) and Matías Fernández (Argentina)
France 3 – Patrice Evra (Senegal), Flourent Malouda (French Guiana) and Steve Mandanda (DR Congo)
Greece 3 – Avraam Papadopoulos (Australia), Loukas Vyntra (Czech Republic) and Sotiris Ninis (Albania)
Australia 2 – Nikita Rukavytsya (Ukraine) and Dario Vidošić (Croatia)
Ghana 2 – André Ayew (France) and Kevin-Prince Boateng (Germany)
Ivory Coast 2 – Guy Demel and Sol Bamba (both France)
North Korea 2 – Ahn Young-Hak and Jong Tae-Se (both Japan)
Paraguay 2 – Jonathan Santana and Néstor Ortigoza (both Argentina)
Serbia 2 – Neven Subotić (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and Zdravko Kuzmanović (Switzerland)
Slovenia 2 – Elvedin Džinič and Zlatko Dedič (both Bosnia & Herzegovina)
USA 2 – Benny Feilhaber (Brazil) and Stuart Holden (Scotland)
Denmark 1 – Jesper Grønkjær (Greenland)*
Italy 1 – Mauro Camoranesi (Argentina)
Japan 1 – Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Brazil)
Mexico 1 – Guilherme Franco (Argentina)
Netherlands 1 – Edson Braafheid (Suriname)
Nigeria 1 – Peter Odemwingie (Uzbekistan)
South Africa 1 – Bongani Khumalo (Swaziland)
South Korea 1 – Cha Du-Ri (Germany)
Argentina 0
Brazil 0
England 0
Honduras 0
Slovakia 0
Spain 0
Uruguay 0

* – Yes, Greenland is technically part of Denmark, but I couldn’t resist including it and letting the world know once again that Jesper Gronkjaer was indeed, born in Greenland.

Where were these foreign-born players born?: 22 – France, 6 – Brazil, 5 – Argentina, Germany, 4 - Bosnia & Herzegovnia,  3 - England, Kosovo, 2 - DR Congo, Poland,  Japan, Venezeula, Cape Verde, 1 - Swaziland, Senegal, French Guiana, Uzbekistan, Czech Republic, Albania, Australia, Scotland, Ukraine, Croatia, Switzerland, Suriname, Canada, Greenland.
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5 Responses to “The World Cup’s Foreign-Born Players”

  1. Steven June 4, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    It appears there’s another Argentinian-born Paraguayan international, Lucas Barrios.

    Can’t catch ‘em all I suppose!

  2. hastaelgolsiempre June 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Gonzalo Higuaín is in the Argentina squad. He was born in Brest, France, as Raymond Domenech is all too painfully aware.

  3. Steven June 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    And of course, Gonzalo Higuain was born in Brest, France. Therefore there are only six sides that do not feature any foreign born players in their squads.

  4. Adewale September 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    Dennis Aogo of Germany also had a Nigerian father.

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  1. Twinty Tin this summer « Mirko Bolesan - June 6, 2010

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