DStv UEFA Euro 2024 African Footballers Focus: Eduardo Camavinga and Kylian Mbappe - France

News 14 June 2024

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DStv UEFA Euro 2024 African Footballers Focus: Eduardo Camavinga and Kylian Mbappe - France

France have long featured stars with roots in Africa – most notably the great Zinedine Zidane, who was deeply proud of his Algerian heritage – and at UEFA Euro 2024 they will continue that trend with a raft of players, the most notable of which are Kylian Mbappe and Eduardo Camavinga.

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Mbappe was born in 1998 in Paris to a Cameroonian father, Wilfried, and a French mother, Fayza Lamar. When the speedy forward emerged as a star for Monaco in the mid-2010s, there was a slight hope that he could represent the Indomitable Lions, but ultimately, he opted for Les Bleus.

And you cannot deny that it was the right decision for Mbappe, who debuted for the senior team in March 2017 and just 16 months later was a World Cup winner, scoring four goals – including one in the final against Croatia – to earn comparisons with the all-time football ‘GOAT’ Pele.

But Cameroon has remained close to Mbappe’s heart. He visited the country as an up-and-coming teenager, and in 2023 went back to the Central African country – this time as a player regarded as arguably the best in the world. "I'm so happy to be here," he said at the time, adding that people had shown him so much "love".

"We've all been awaiting the moment and it’s finally here," an Mbappe fan said of his visit. "It's a huge boost for Cameroon, not just for Cameroon but for the entire continent. Having him around shows that home is home - you have to come back to your home."

Camavinga has even stronger roots in Africa, having been born in a refugee camp in Cabinda, Angola in 2002, to an Angolan-Congolese father and a Congolese mother who fled the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His family moved to France when he was just two years old.

He went on to move through the ranks at Stade Rennais, before Real Madrid snapped up the talented teenage midfielder in 2021 – and he has gone on to win two La Liga and two UEFA Champions League titles with the Spanish heavyweights.

Camavinga gained French citizenship in 2019 and made his debut for France’s senior team – aged just 17 and the youngest player in over 100 years to do so – in September 2020. Though there was never really any chance of him representing Angola, he has in the past expressed support for the Palancas Negras – especially when they were playing in the last edition of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mbappe and Camavinga are two of the reasons France are regarded as one of the outright favourites for Euro 2024, but they will first need to navigate Group D matches against Austria, Netherlands and Poland on June 17, 21 and 25 respectively – with all matches LIVE on SuperSport.

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