Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema And Other France Players with African roots
As a result of the French empire’s long reign, millions of African men and women were brought into the European country between 1605 and 1962, with a large percentage of France’s population still made up of people of African descent.
Many of these families have produced incredible footballing talents over the years, many of whom have inspired Les Bleus to remarkable triumph on the international stage.
In Deschamps’ latest 25-man squad, 13 players have strong links to the African continent, with Ibrahima Konate, N’Golo Kante and Moussa Diaby all of Malian descent.
Good friends and strike partners Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema – who might have been playing together at club level for Real Madrid had the former not rejected the Spanish giants’ recent contract offer – both have ties to Algeria.
Mbappe, however, could also have chosen to represent Cameroon, with his dad, Wilfried Mbappe, having been born in the Central African nation.
1. Presnel Kimpembe – Congo
Kimpembe was born in France, but his father is Congolese.
2. Samuel Umtiti
Born in Cameroon and Roger Milla even tried to get him to play for Cameroon.
3. Paul Pogba
Born in France to two Guinean parents.
4. Kylian Mbappé
Born in France to a Cameroonian father and Algerian mother.
5. Ousmane Dembélé
Born in France. His mother is French, but of Mauritanian and Senegalese descent, while his father is from Mali.
6. Corentin Tolisso
Born in France, but has connections to Togo through his parents. In 2016, Togo manager Claude Le Roy tried to get him to play for the African side, but Tolisso declined.
7. N’Golo Kanté
Born in France, both his parents are from Mali. Kanté was approached by Mali ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations having not played for France in any of their age group teams. But he said no.
8. Blaise Matuidi
Born in France to an Angolan father and Congolese mother.
9. Steven Nzonzi
Born in France with Congolese parental heritage. He declined playing for Congo twice. His father did, however, once ask if he was eligible to play for England back in 2016. He wasn’t, though having already represented France at age group level.
10. Steve Mandanda
Born in the DRC and moved to France when he was a teenager.
11. Adil Rami
Born on the French island of Corsica to Moroccan parents.
12. Nabil Fekir
Born in France to Algerian Parents. He was named in Algeria’s squad for friendlies against Oman and Qatar in March 2015. However, he withdrew to take part in the French squad for friendlies against Brazil and Denmark.
13. Djibril Sidibé
He has links to Mali, but was born in France.
14. Benjamin Mendy
Born in France to Senegalese parents. He decided to represent France and made his senior debut in March 2017.
Born in Lyon to Algerian parents, Benzema began his career with hometown club Olympique Lyonnais in 2005, contributing sporadically to three Ligue 1 title wins.