Coral’s current foreign-born international XI: Surprise selections
Following Burundi-born Saido Berahino’s first international call-up for England, Coral writers have scoured the globe to come up with a starting XI, plus seven substitutes, of players who currently turn out for countries other than the place of their birth as well.
There are a fair few surprises in this side, so see how many you would have thought of.
Fernando Muslera – Goalkeeper (Uruguay)
The Argentina-born stopper actually turns out for the nation he was brought up in; Uruguay. While he will not go down as one of the greatest keepers in history, or even of his time, it is fair to say he performs at international level. Galatasaray’s Muslera played his heart out in the 2011 Copa America final against his country of birth, winning the man of the match award, and was in goal for the infamous 2010 World Cup penalty shoot-out with Ghana, where a certain Luis Suarez was centre of attention.
Fabian Johnson – Right back (USA)
Born and raised in Munich, Germany, versatile full back Johnson has even turned out for Die Mannschaft throughout all ages at youth level from the Under-17s to Under-21s. He even won the European Championship with the latter age group in 2009 against England, starting alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels. However, a call-up from former German legend Jurgen Klinsmann to Stars and Stripes senior side was enough to make the current Borussia Monchengladbach player change allegiances.
Pepe – Centre back (Portugal)
Stalwart centre back Pepe has been a rock at the back for Portugal and Real Madrid since 2007, but was actually born in Brazil. He gained citizenship in that same year whilst at Maritimo and Porto, and reportedly turned down an offer from Dunga in 2006 to represent the Samba Boys. Pepe has yet to win silverware with Portugal, but Brazil have gained the Copa America and two Confederations Cups in that time.
Bruno Martins Indi – Centre back (Netherlands)
Martins Indi highly impressed for over-achievers Clockwork Orange at the World Cup in Brazil, even earning attention from Manchester United in the summer, but the young defender was actually born in Portugal to parents from Guinea-Bissau. The current Porto player did move to Rotterdam shortly after his birth, though, and has already earned 26 caps at the age of 22.
Jose Holebas – Left back (Greece)
Attacking left-sided player Holebas was born and raised in Germany, but never got a call-up from Die Mannschaft or his mother’s nation Uruguay. Instead, he gained citizenship from Greece in 2011 whilst playing for Olympiakos, as his father Achilles is from the country. Holebas is now challenging Ashley Cole for a starting place at Roma.
Rio Mavuba – Midfield (France)
Mavuba is the son of a Zaire World Cup footballer and Angolan mother, but was surprisingly born at sea, due to the Angolan Civil War. He officially gained French citizenship in 2004, after his birth certificate had no nationality printed on it. The Lille midfield destroyer has since turned out for Les Bleus 13 times including against Honduras at the Brazil finals.
Thiago Motta – Midfield (Italy)
Motta makes this side, despite actually representing the country of his birth, Brazil, twice way back in 2003. Due to those games being in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and part of the Under-23 team, he was still free to represent Italy, as he held duel nationality. He currently turns out for PSG, and has been an Azzurri squad regular since his first cap for the Europeans in 2011. Motta has picked up a European Championship runners-up medal, in 2012, with them.
Raheem Sterling – Right wing (England)
England’s next best thing was in fact born in Jamaica, and follows in the footpath of another Three Lions great John Barnes, who hails from the same Caribbean island in the country’s capital of Kingston. The tricky Liverpool winger has lived in England since the age of five, but was once tempted to play for the Reggae Boyz.
Xherdan Shaqiri – Left wing (Switzerland)
Switzerland’s star player Shaqiri actually hails from Gjilan, Yugoslavia, which is now a part of eastern Kosovo. Due to the municipality not yet being granted UEFA or FIFA creditability, Shaqiri represents the nation where he has lived since just after he was born. It’s hard to believe he is still just 22, but has already racked up 40 caps, scoring 13 goals, and plays for one of the biggest clubs in the world, Bayern Munich.
Diego Costa – Striker (Spain)
Another former Brazil two-capped star, and perhaps the highest-profile player of this XI, Costa now controversially turns out for the nation he moved to in 2007, Spain. He certainly wasn’t a popular figure at the most recent World Cup in his back yard. He has just one Spain goal to his name so far, but the striker has been so prolific for both Atletico Madrid and new club Chelsea in recent years.
Gonzalo Higuain – Striker (Argentina)
Napoli attacker Higuain was born in France, when his footballing father was playing there for Brest. The family then moved back Argentina almost a year after the ex-Real Madrid player’s birth, but didn’t actually gain nationality for them until 2007, holding only French citizenship until then, despite not being able to speak the language. Higuain has since turned out for La Albiceleste 45 times, getting an impressive 24 goals.
Keiren Westwood – Republic of Ireland, born in England
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – France, born in Central African Republic
Johan Djourou – Switzerland, born in Ivory Coast
Jonathan de Guzman – Netherlands, born in Canada
Nani – Portugal, born in Cape Verde
Aiden McGeady – Republic of Ireland, born in Scotland
Christian Benteke – Belgium, born in Democratic Republic of the Congo