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Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 12:58 UK

Africans at Euro 2008

By James Copnall

Patrick Vieira
Vieira, whose parents are from Senegal, will be in action for France

There are so many players of African origin playing in the 2008 European Championship they could form a very handy team of their own.

France, unsurprisingly as a former colonial power with a long tradition of using African-born talent, has by far the biggest Afro-contingent.

Patrick Vieira and Patrice Evra could have played for Senegal, Claude Makelele and Steve Mandanda were born in Kinshasa, Sidney Govou is the son of a former Benin international, and Lassana Diarra has roots in Mali.

The list doesn't end there as both Samir Nasri and rising star Karim Benzema are of Algerian origin.

Nasri has been nicknamed the 'new Zidane', as the greatest of France's players of African origin grew up like him in the south of France in an Algerian family.

The latest addition to the French squad is Bafetimbi Gomis, who hesitated between France and Senegal, before scoring a double on his debut for the Blues last month.

Other countries have players with African links too.

Portugal has used its connections to its former colonies astutely.

One of Portugal and world football's all time greats was Eusebio, who was born in Mozambique at a time when it was still a Portuguese colony.

In the current squad Nani and Miguel have ties to Cape Verde, while Jose Bosingwa was born in DR Congo.

Switzerland has Johan Djourou, of Ivorian origin, and its own star who could have played for Cap Verde, Gelson Fernandes.

There are many Moroccans in Holland, and two of them, Ibrahim Afelly and Khalid Boulahrouz are in the Dutch squad for Euro 2008.

Ghana fans may look out for a familiar sounding name in the German squad: the Real Betis winger David Odonkor.

Finally Sweden has Henrik Larsson, who has ties to Cape Verde, and the goalkeeper Rami Schaaban, who almost played for Egypt.

There would have been several more Afro-Europeans if Belgium, which has many players of Congolese origin, had qualified.

All the same it's still quite a list, and one strong enough to form a pretty competitive team.

This line-up, in a 4-4-2 formation, would give many of the teams at Euro 2008 - or at the next Africa Cup of Nations in Angola - a competitive game.

Mandanda (France, DRC), Miguel (Portugal, Cape Verde), Djourou (Switzerland, Ivory Coast), Boulahrouz (Holland, Morocco), Evra (France, Senegal), Nasri (France, Algeria), Vieira (France, Senegal), Makelele (France, DRC), Nani (Portugal, Cape Verde), Benzema (France, Algeria), Larsson (Sweden, Cape Verde)

see also
Euro 2008 finals draw
02 Dec 07 |  Internationals
Euro 2008 venues
27 May 08 |  Euro 2008
The road to Euro 2008
23 Nov 07 |  Football
Euro 2008: Who will you support?
27 May 08 |  Euro 2008

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