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10 Talented French Footballers Who Are African

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Whenever international football comes around, we remember the talents some African countries are missing out on as a result of migration. The French football team is one of the greatest beneficiaries of this as a significant part of its squad has close links with the continent. This article consists of 10 French footballers who are African.

  • Kylian Mbappe
  • Paul Pogba
  • Ousmane Dembele
  • Corentin Tolliso
  • N’golo Kante
  • Samuel Umtiti
  • Presnel Kimpembe
  • William Saliba
  • Jules Kounde
  • Aurelien Tchouameni

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1. Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe representing France. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

Kylian Mbappe, already one of the best players of his generation is one of the French footballers with African roots. The 2018 World Cup winner and the second teenager to ever score in a world cup final after Pele was born in Paris to a Cameroonian father and an Algerian mother. 

He could have chosen to play for any African nation but looks like he was always set for France as that’s his country of birth. For a player of his talent, France is undoubtedly a great attraction.

After a successful year in 2018, he was named the French Footballer of the Year and was named to the FIFA FIFPro World XI. 

2. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba playing for France. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

The Juventus midfielder is also another French footballer with African ancestry. He was born in Lagny-Sur-Marne, France to Guinean parents.

His footballing journey began in a club that was near his hometown. He then joined professional outfit Le Havre and has worked his way up the ladder. 

Pogba is now one of the most coveted footballers having played for some of the biggest clubs – Juventus and Manchester United – and is a World Cup winner. 

At the youth level, he won a couple of awards. In 2014, he was named the Young Player of the Tournament and also won the U20 World Cup with France in 2013.

3. Ousmane Dembele 

Ousmane Dembele for France. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

Dembele was born in Vernon, France to a French mother who is of Mauritania & Senegal descent and a Malian father. His career started and took off in France before he joined German club Borussia Dortmund and later Barcelona

He hasn’t lived up to the expectation of many in Spain. But he’s surely a footballer that Mali would have loved to have in its books.

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4. Corentin Tolliso

French midfielder Corentin Tolliso. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

The Olympique Lyon midfielder also traces his roots to Africa. Corentin Tolliso’s father Vincent Tolliso is Togolese. In 2018, the Togo coach Claude Le Roy attempted to lure him to represent the country but he declined.

Tolliso played for French youth teams before he made his debut for the senior team in 2017. He was part of France’s World Cup-winning squad in 2018. 

5. N’golo Kante

N’golo Kante in a tussle with Lionel Messi. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

Kante’s parents are both Malian hence his connection to Africa. Mali approached him to play for them at the international level ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations but he passed on the chance. At the time, he hadn’t played for the French senior team. 

With his meteoric rise to football stardom with Leicester’s premier league-winning squad, he has become one of the players who feature in the team regularly. He won the World Cup with France in 2018. 

6. Samuel Umtiti

French defender Samuel Umtiti. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

 Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon but his aunt took him to France in pursuit of a better lifestyle. He joined Lyon’s academy at the age of 8. He went on and played for the club before he moved to Spanish Barcelona.

This is where he established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Umtiti is a pivotal player for France’s backline and like many on this list, won the world cup in 2018. 

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7. Presnel Kimpembe 

Presnel Kimpembe celebrating winning the World Cup. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

The French midfielder traces his roots to Congo. Whilst he was born in France, his father is Congolese and his mother Afro-Haitian. 

Despite playing for Congo in his youth days, he chose to represent France at a senior level and was part of Didier Deschamp’s 2018 World Cup-winning team.

8. William Saliba

William Saliba French defender. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

Saliba’s mother is Cameroonian and that makes him one of the French footballers who have African roots.

He was born in France and came through the youth football system in the country and naturally, chose to represent the French national football team. He has played for France throughout different age categories from U16 all the way to the senior side.

9. Jules Kounde

Jules Kounde playing for France. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

Kounde was born to a Beninise father which means he could have chosen to represent Benin in international football. However, he was born in France and came through the youth structures there and thus his allegiance to the French national team. He made his debut on the team in 2021.

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10. Aurelien Tchouameni

Aurelien Tchouameni playing for France. Image Source: Instagram licenced by CC BY 2.0

 

Aurelien was born in France to Cameroonian parents. He’s been through the Bordeaux youth setup and the French national team setup hence his decision to represent them. 

He’s one of the young players France has in its pool and has already made his debut for the team. He now has 23 caps having made his senior debut in 2021.

From these players, It’s clear that Africans do not lack the talent to compete at the highest football levels. Though, talent is never enough. Without the support from the stakeholders, you can’t really go far. Perhaps that’s why these players feel the need to stay in France and represent them.

Is there anything African countries can do to lure players who have African descent? 

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