Few footballers in history have had the rare privilege of playing for two different national teams. Wilfried Zaha is one of the rare cases after he made the move from donning the colours of England’s Three Lions to Ivory Coast’s Elephants.
England, France and Belgium have a much longer history of selecting black footballers in their national teams due to a longer historical association with people of African ancestry. But with increased rate of immigration and transnational marriage, the world has become a global village over the years. Because of that, a lot more European countries now have players of colour in their national teams. Any interesting case is Vienna-born David Alaba, a rare breed of a national player for a country with a problem with racism.
Winning the English Premier League (EPL) title twice in succession is an enviable feat for any professional footballer. Doing it twice with two different teams is incredible. But being a key player on both occasions is even more astonishing. N’Golo Kante could be on his way to achieve that remarkable feat.
It might not be the most famous political statement made on the sports field, like the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. But when Zimbabwean cricket players Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands at the 2003 Cricket World Cup to “mourn the death of democracy” in their country, they wrote their own unique piece of history and showed love to a country that has continued to sink deeper into crisis and recession.
Nigerian footballer Victor Moses has been one of the most consistent players in the English Premier League this season. His rising profile is a remarkable turn of events from his childhood, where he suffered the worst imaginable misfortune for a young person.
Cameroon has had to dig deep into their bags of reserves to qualify for the semi-finals of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The Indomitable Lions have had to fight it out without eight players who declined selection choosing to stay with their clubs in Europe. Should the four-time African champions go all the way in Gabon and clinch a fifth title, will it bring shame to those who refused to answer the nation’s call? Is there something we’ve learnt from the Gabon 2017 Afcon tournament in as far as players’ patriotism is concerned?