7 Big-Name Footballers Who Were Born in a Different Country to the One They Represent

​Representing your national team is one of the pinnacles of footballing achievement.

Just look at Gareth Bale. The Welshman may be picking up Champions Leagues for fun at Real Madrid but he is adamant nothing brings him more ‘excitement’ than turning out for Wales. No golf jokes please…

Once upon a time, the question of nationality seemed relatively simple, but in today’s increasingly global society there are many cases of players with dual citizenship and mixed heritage who play for the national team of a country where they weren’t actually born.

Here are seven examples of big-name stars who looked past their birth certificate when it came to choosing their colours…

Kalidou Koulibaly & Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – France

Kalidou Koulibaly,Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

France are a painfully talented side. In fact, even their supposed ‘B’ and ‘C’ sides would give most nations a run for their money.

Littered with quality from back to front, it wasn’t with any great surprise that they lifted the World Cup last year and reached the final of the European Championships two years prior.

So, what would that side have looked like if Olivier Giroud wasn’t leading the line and was instead replaced with last season’s ​Premier League Golden Boot winner ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? Frightening, that’s what. 

Born in Laval, the Gabon forward opted to represent the country his father used to captain, while he could have also played for Spain and Italy.

So how could a stupidly good France team with an immense striker get any better? Throw in one of Europe’s finest centre halves, that’s how. Indeed, Kalidou Koulibaly was also born in France but chose to turn out for Senegal, the birthplace of his parents.

What if, eh? Well, I think there would be no point playing next summer’s Euro 2020 at all, tbqh.

Jorginho – Brazil


He very much fits the mould of Italian footballer, given his style of play and the fact Maurizio Sarri absolutely adores him. But, it could have been a different story had Jorginho chosen to represent Brazil on the international stage, after being born in the coastal town of Imbituba.

Holding both Italian and Brazilian citizenships, the choice was his to make, eventually opting for Italy in 2014. Someone more than capable of slotting into most systems, his composure on the ball and ability to dictate the tempo of a match could have been of benefit to Brazil.

However, let’s face it though, he is undoubtedly an Italian footballer.

Thiago Alcantara – Italy

Thiago Alcantara

Born in the gorgeous scenery of south-east Italy due to his Brazilian father Mazinho (who represented the Seleção) playing for Lecce at the time, things could have been very different for ​Bayern Munich‘s Spanish maestro.

Italy wasn’t his home for long, as he moved to Brazil to ply his trade at Flamengo, before hopping over to Spain to twice, with the second spell eventually being his breakthrough as he played for Barcelona.

Multi-talented, and seemingly multi-national, Thiago made the choice to represent La Roja, whom he is still an integral player for today. Lucky them.

Miroslav Klose – Poland

Miroslav Klose

A name forever etched into World Cup folklore for netting the most amount of goals in the history of the competition, Klose’s story could have been a significantly different one had he actually have represented his birth nation, Poland.

Instead, the striker turned out for Germany after moving to the country at the age of eight. Much like many of the players featured in this list, they were glad he did as not only did he net 16 goals in four World Cups for Die Mannschaft, he also remains the country’s record goalscorer with 71 scored.

A record he still holds even after retiring in 2016.

Diego Costa – Brazil

Diego Costa

Diego Costa became the most hated man in Brazil after he asked the country of his birth if he could play for Spain in July 2013. After contacting the Brazilian Football Federation, they granted his wish since he hadn’t actually earned a cap for the Seleção at this point.

As a result, then-manager Luis Felipe Scolari said: “A Brazilian player who refuses to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team and compete in a World Cup in your country is automatically withdrawn. He is turning his back on a dream of millions, to represent our national team, the five-time champions in a World Cup in Brazil.”

They still, rather unsurprisingly, don’t like him very much. But hey, he netted three goals for Spain at the World Cup last year, so I doubt he’s all that bothered.

Raheem Sterling – Jamaica

Raheem Sterling

The ​Manchester City forward has often spoken about the pride he has in his Jamaican routes, having been born in the country’s capital, Kingston, in 1994.

Well, I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief when we say thank goodness he plays for England.

Moving to these (very grateful) shores at the age of five, ​Sterling has gone on to become one of the continent’s finest forwards, regularly doing the business for City while now starting to emerge as one of the Three Lions’ most important stars.

“Wanty wanty cyaan getty an’ getty getty nuh wanty,” as the Jamaican proverb goes. We’re lucky to have Sterling, and we probably don’t deserve him.


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