The practice of professional footballers switching their nationality (in most cases from their nation of birth) to play international football has been in existence for many decades now.
Per FIFA rules, this can happen only if the player has not represented any country in their senior team’s official matches.
An example is the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, who played six times for Argentina, his nation of birth, before representing his adopted nation, Spain, 31 times.
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There are other cases where players represented the country of their origin even though they held the passport of another country and had played for that country’s youth teams.
YEN.com.gh brings you 6 Ghanaians who chose to play for other countries:
1. Jerome Boateng (Ghana - Germany)
The Bayern Munich guardsman was born and raised in Germany, but Boateng comes from a home of a Ghanaian father.
Boateng excelled at youth level for Germany, as did his brother, Kevin-Prince – who opted to rather represent Ghana – the country for whom his uncle Robert had also played, with Jerome opting for Germany – for whom the two had excelled at youth level.
He was part of Germany team that won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
2. Danny Welbeck (Ghana – England)
The Arsenal forward, funnily, he made his debut for the Three Lions against Ghana in 2011 – the nation who he could’ve chosen to play for.
The former Manchester United striker was booed by the away fans as he made his entrance on 81 minutes. Although he was born and raised in England, Welbeck’s parents are both Ghanaian.
His full name Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck and he has played 42 games for England, scoring 16 goals.
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3.George Boateng (Ghana – Netherlands)
Boateng is a former Dutch footballer who is of Ghanaian descent. Although born in Ghana, Boateng chose to represent Netherlands at international level, earning four caps in total for Oranje.
Boateng made his international début for the Netherlands in a 1–1 draw with Denmark in November 2001.
During his active days he featured for clubs like Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Hull City.
4. Memphis Depay (Ghana – Netherlands)
Depay is the son of a Ghanaian father and a Dutch mother. His parents split up when he was aged four, and plays only under his given name to spite his absent father.
His father, Dennis Depay, told British newspaper The Sun that he wishes to reconcile with Memphis. He contests his son’s claim that he ever abandoned him.
Depay made his international debut for the Dutch national team on 15 October 2013, coming on for Jeremain Lens in the last minute of a 2–0 away win against Turkey at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in World Cup qualification.
5. Marcel Desailly (Ghana – France)
Desailly made the controversial decision to play for France, instead of his parents home country of Ghana. He has often said that he feels totally French and while having ties with his native country, never even considered playing for another country than France.
This stance was restated in his autobiography, published in 2002. He made his international debut in 1993, but was not established as a first choice defender until 1996. He was an important part of the French team which won the 1998 World Cup, albeit being sent off in the final. Like other team members, he was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur in 1998.
Two years later success continued, as France won Euro 2000. After the tournament, Desailly was made the captain of the national team, following the retirement of Didier Deschamps. In 2001, he led France to victory in the Confederations Cup.
6. Mario Baloteli (Ghana – Italy)
Almost eight years ago Balotelli was called up to represent Ghana, as his parents are both Ghanaian-born, but he refused as he was waiting for Italy to give him the nod.
Arguably one of the most controversial characters in world football, the Liverpool forward has scored 13 times for Italy in 33 appearances.
In 2007 Balotelli was called up for Ghana by then coach Claude Le Roy, but he refused, insisting that he was holding out for the invitation from Italy.
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