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5 World Cup stars who could have played for France, but didn’t

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6.07K   //    17 Jul 2018, 11:41 IST

Benatia and Higuain were both born in France
Benatia and Higuain were both born in France

France won their second World Cup in Russia after an entertaining 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. After their triumph, there has been a lot of discussion on the number of players of African origin in the France squad.

Most of the players in the France squad were born in the country. The two exceptions are Steve Mandanda and Samuel Umtiti who were born in Zaire and Cameroon respectively. However, both players moved to France at a young age and opted to play for France.

Then there are also cases like that of Paul Pogba. The Manchester United man was born in France but is of Guinean origin and his two brothers, Mathias and Florentin, play for the Guinean national team.

There were several players at the World Cup who were born in France but chose to represent a different country. In most cases, their country of origin. So, here are five renowned stars who could have played for France, but didn’t.

#5 Medhi Benatia (Morocco)

Benatia captained Morocco at the World Cup
Benatia captained Morocco at the World Cup

The Juventus man was born in France and even represented the country at the U18 level before switching his allegiance to Morocco, the country of his father.

At that time, Benatia was playing in the second tier of French football despite graduating from the Marseille academy and a career at the top echelons of European football was difficult to fathom.

In 2008, he went on to play for Morocco at the senior level but his club career only gathered pace in 2010 following his move to Udinese.

He has since gone on to play for Roma, Bayern Munich and Juventus, winning several team and individual accolades along the way. In fact, he is now considered one of the best central defenders in Serie A.

For Morocco, he has played 55 times, including at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He scored in a 2-0 win over Ivory Coast in the qualifying phase of the World Cup and the result ensured Morocco's participation in Russia.

Interestingly, Benatia was also eligible to play for Algeria as his mother is an Algerian.

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