FIFA World Cup 2018 has a host of international football stars who are shining in Russia for their ‘doosri county’ – representing the other team than the nation of their origin.
Every top-notch athlete nurtures a dream to excel while playing for the pride of representing the country at the global stage like a World Cup, World Championships or the continental and the Olympic Games.
Then there are athletes who stay loyal to their ‘doosri country’ (represent the team other than the nation of their origin) and give their best for their adopted nations. The ongoing high octane action of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia too is witnessing a fair share of such players who are playing for teams different from their countries of birth.
Diego Costa for Spain
The Brazilian-origin player Diego Costa has played two friendlies for his native country in 2013. After getting a Spanish citizenship the same year, he expressed a desire to play for his ‘doosri country’ and was picked up by La Roja (Spanish national football team) next year.
The 29-year-old Atletico Madrid star has made an impressive start this FIFA World Cup 2018 with two goals against Portugal in Group B campaign opener that ended in a 3-3 draw.
Pepe for Portugal
Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira ComM aka Pepe was born in Brazil who left the country before turning 18 and joined Portuguese club Maritimo. The talented defender was once given a chance to represent his native country in 2006 edition of the FIFA World Cup in Germany. But, by then, Pepe had already made up his mind to stay with Portugal. The 35-year-old currently plays as a centre back for Turkish club Beşiktaş.
Ivan Rakitic for Croatia
The 30-year-old Barcelona midfielder has represented Switzerland at U-21 level in four matches before switching his allegiance to Croatia, where his parents were born. His decision was heavily criticised by Swiss national football federation. Since then, Rakitic has made 91 international appearances for the Croatian senior football national team.
Hakim Ziyech for Morocco
Ziyech was born in The Netherlands and has played for Dutch teams at the U-19, U-20 and U-21 levels. He was even called to the senior national squad in 2015 by the Dutch football manager Guus Hiddink but a serious injury ruled him out and he was never picked again.
However, his family lineage gave him the option to play for Morocco. As the luck would have it, in Russia he is playing for Morocco while The Netherlands are missing! The 25-year- old currently plays as an attacking midfielder for Ajax in the Eredivisie, the top division of Dutch football.
Samuel Umtiti for France
Umtiti was born in Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon, but soon his family moved to France. He got his big break with Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais B side in 2010 and the top side in 2012. Cameroon has sent the legendary Roger Milla to convince him to represent the country of his origin. The retired footballer Milla failed as Umtiti decided to stay with France.
The 24-year-old currently plays as centre-back for LaLiga giants Barcelona. His side has made an impressive start to the FIFA World Cup 2018 campaign with a 2-1 victory against Australia in the Group C opener on June 16.
Kalidou Koulibaly for Senegal
Koulibaly was born in France to Senegalese parents. He made his debut for the French U-20 team in 2011. He had moved to Senegal in 2015 in search for a better opportunity after experiencing a slump in his career for quite some time. Interestingly, French coach Didier Deschamps showed interest in the defender only after he had made his debut for Senegal, and was no longer eligible to play for France.
The 26-year-old Seria A club Napoli defender will launch his campaign today (Tuesday) alongside his national side against Poland in the Group H opening campaign In FIFA World Cup 2018.
Medhi Benatia for Morocco
The Morocco captain was born in France and started his career with Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille but did not play any competitive matches with them. He made a solitary appearance for France U-18 in 2005 but later took a decision to represent Morocco, where his father was born. He made his national team debut in 2008.