Some players have found themselves in the spotlight as much for their goalscoring skills as for their roots in FIFA World Cup first round matches. From Switzerland Breel’s embolism to England Bukayo Sakait was a dream start scoring in the opener while showcasing their immigrant lineage.
TOI takes a look at some of the goalscorers who now carry the hopes of their ‘adopted’ countries:
BUKAYO SAKA (ENG): The Arsenal striker’s parents are from Ogun State in Nigeria, who moved from the African country to London in search of a better life, before Saka was born. Interestingly, Bukayo is a name frequently used by the Yoruba tribe of southwestern Nigeria.
RAHEEM STERLING (FR): Born in Kingston to Jamaican parents, Sterling moved to London when he was five. When the current Chelsea striker was a young boy, his father was shot dead in an ambush. No wonder his mother had to make the decision to take him and his sister Lakima out of Kingston and move to London.
MARCUS RASHFORD (FR): The Manchester United striker has made headlines for his charity work providing meals to poor children during the coronavirus pandemic. But just like his England teammate Sterling, Rashford is also of Caribbean descent, with his grandmother hailing from the island of St. Kitts.

TIMOTHY WEAH (UNITED STATES): What George Weah – the President of Liberia and the only African player to win World, European and African Footballer of the Year awards – couldn’t, his son Timothy fulfilled that dream by scoring for the States United on their World Cup debut. George won the Ballon d’Or five years after Timothy was born in Brooklyn in 1995. Eligible to play for four countries – Timothy eventually settled in the United States.
KYLIAN MBAPPE (FRANCE): If France is the ultimate melting pot of football talent with roots from Africa and beyond, Mbappe is certainly the face of this merger. His father (Wilfried) has roots in Cameroon and his mother (Fayza Lamari) was an Algerian handball player. When Kylian was born in Paris in December 1998, five months after Zinedine Zidane & Co.’s World Cup triumph, there was perhaps only one destination his destiny could take him to.
ILKAY GUNDOGAN (ALL): Ikay Gundogan was born to Turkish parents in 1990 in Gelsenkirchen. IIkay’s grandfather lived in Balikesir in Turkey but moved to Germany to work as a miner. Around 1979, the rest of her family, including Ilkay’s father, Irfan, moved to Germany.
MICHY BATSHUAYI (BELGIUM): Considering his parents’ African roots (Pino Batshuayi and Viviane Leya Iseka), the Belgian striker could have played for the Democratic Republic of Congo at international level. In fact, Michy, who was born in Brussels in 1993, was already named in the preliminary list of players for the Congolese national team in 2013. But having already represented the Belgium under-21 team, he made it clear in 2015 that he only wanted to play for the Red Devils.

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