10 Footballers Who Chose Not To Play For France

Do you know there are footballers who chose not to play for france? We all know France to be that national team which gathers players from different origins and different nationalities. People say that’s why they’re so good. But even with how good and successful they are, there are some people who have rejected the opportunity to play for Les Bleus.

Footballers who chose not to play for France

Here are 10 footballers who chose not to play for the France national team. You might be surprised by some names we will be mentioning in this article. 

1. Leroy Sane

The first surprise is Leroy Sane. Sane has been a German international since 2015, so many don’t know that he ever even had the opportunity to play for France. Well, he did. Although he was born and raised in Germany, he holds French citizenship, so that option was always open for him from the start.

footballers who chose not to play for france

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Another option which was always open for him was Senegal because of his dad who is from there. 

But Sane chose Germany because he was born and raised there. He admitted to having family in France, but he maintained that he feels German.

Now, this might feel a little surprising, but we can assure you that it’s not the most surprising in this article. Keep reading to find out who the surprise entries are.

2. Riyad Mahrez

Taking about the one that’s a little less surprising now, Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez is an Algerian international now, but he was born in France. He was raised there, he started his career there, and he played there until Leicester brought him over to England in 2014. So, he is French through and through.

footballers who chose not to play for france

It is said that Mahrez decided to represent Algeria instead of France because of his dad who himself was a footballer in Algeria. Mahrez lost his dad to a heart attack when he was just a teenager, and when the opportunity came in 2014, he immediately declared his interest to play for his father’s country.

footballers who chose not to play for france

People might argue that he went for Algeria because he knew it’d be easier to get in there, but to be fair to him, he actually never tried for France. He never played in their youth system and he expressed his desire to play for Algeria as early as when he was just 22, so we’d say he actually followed his heart by picking Algeria over France.

3. Aymerick Laporte

Unlike Mahrez, Aymerick Laporte actually held out for France, but then later turned around and decided he’d never play for them again. Laporte was born in France, so naturally, his instinct was to play for Les Bleus. 

He started out in the youth system, playing and even captaining at the under 17, 18, 19, and 21 levels. So, we all thought it was just a matter of time until he began to play for the senior team. 

But in 2015, he started flirting with the idea of playing for Spain, a country he had lived in since he was 16. Then in 2016, he actively started the process of making himself eligible for the Spain national team.

footballers who chose not to play for france

On seeing this, Didier Deschamps immediately gave Laporte a callup for the 2018 World Cup qualifying games in 2016, but he did not come off the bench for any of the games. 

In 2019, Deschamps called him up again for Euro qualifiers, but this time, it was an injury that ruled him out. 

But by 2021, when the Euros was coming up, Laporte had had a complete change of heart. He got his Spanish citizenship, got FIFA to approve his change of nationality, and went to the Euros with Spain. That’s how he left France behind.

4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang has a pretty interesting story. He was eligible to play for Italy, France, Spain, and Gabon. 

He was invited to play in Italy’s youth system but he rejected them and went with France instead. He played his first game for France’s under-21 side in February 2009 when he was 20. 

We all thought that was it, then. We would go on and climb up the French ladder from there. But just a month later, Aubameyang did a complete 180. He made himself available for the Gabon national team, was selected, and then went ahead to make his debut with the senior team.

And ladies and gentlemen, that was exactly how Aubameyang dumped France for Gabon.

Many credited his sudden change of mind to his dad who also played for and even captained the Gabon national team.

5. Kalidou Koulibaly

 Kalidou Koulibaly was born in France to Senegalese parents and he played for the France under-20 team. But in 2015, at the age of 24, he pledged his allegiance to Senegal and was immediately called up. 

It has to be said that he made this decision in spite of the fact that Deschamps had made it known that he was keen on calling up the defender to the France national team. Koulibaly said he doesn’t regret his decision because all he was concerned about was writing the story of the future of Senegalese football. And well, by captaining the side to their first ever AFCON title, you can say he’s doing just that.

6. Edouard Mendy

Edouard Mendy, is another guy who turned France down. He was eligible to play for France, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal. And it was Guinea-Bissau who actually got him first.

His dad, who was Bissau-Guinean, was sick to the point of death, so Mendy decided to honor him by playing some friendly games for the Guinea-Bissau national team at that time. 

But when it came to actual competitive games, Mendy decided to reject both his country of birth and his father’s country and pledged his allegiance to his mother’s country, Senegal.

7. Houssem Aouar

It’s one thing to decide not to play for France, but to say you regret ever being associated with the team is a different level. But that’s what Houssem Aouar said. 

He was born in France and he played in the France under-17s and under-21s. In 2019, he was called up to the senior team, but an injury stopped him from making an appearance. He was called up again in August 2020, but he had to be dropped because he contracted COVID-19.

In October 2020, he finally made his debut for France, but it was only a friendly game. Now fast forward to March 2023. Aouar just recently switched his allegiance to his parents’ country, Algeria.

He said in an interview that he met with the president of the Algerian Football Federation, and once they shook hands, he just knew it was meant to be. But more sensationally, he said that he regretted ever playing for France; he felt he didn’t make the best decision with that one. 

8. Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe is one guy who doesn’t have any such regrets because, despite being born in France, he never played for Les Bleus. He never even played for any of the youth teams.

His mind had always been on Ivory Coast, and he earned his first callup when he was just 21, and he has not looked back since then.

And you know, the football gods have a really good sense of humor because Pepe ended up playing his first ever game for the Ivory Coast national team against France.

Remember we told you that some of the entries on this list would shock you. Now, how about these two for shockers?

9. Raphael Guerreiro

First, Raphael Guerreiro. Yes, not many know that the Portuguese defender was actually born in France. He started his career there and played in the country until 2016 when he earned his move to Borussia Dortmund.

But in spite of his deep connections with France, Guerreiro never even considered playing for the country. He had his eyes on his father’s country, Portugal, the entire time. And hear this, he didn’t even know how to speak Portuguese at the time, but he decided it was Portugal or nothing.

Anyway, he eventually got his first callup in November 2014, and that same month, he scored the only goal in a friendly game against Argentina. It was just a friendly, but that’s a goal he’ll never forget.

10. Gonzalo Higuain

If you think that Guerreiro is shocking, come check this out – Gonzalo Higuain. Yes, the Argentinian legend was actually born in France. 

Back when he was a young striker, he was one of the hottest properties in the land, so both Argentina and France wanted him so badly. But, you won’t believe this, this guy actually rejected both of them initially because he wasn’t yet sure who to go for. But they didn’t stop, they kept running back. Imagine rejecting two World Cup winning countries and they still keep coming back for you. Higuain was really that guy!

Anyway, he held out for a bit, but he eventually chose Argentina over France, joining Messi and the rest to go to the Olympics in 2008 and then the World Cup under Maradona in 2010. With that, he became just the 3rd player not born in Argentina to represent the Argentina national team at the World Cup. 

Anyway, are there more players you know who chose not to play for France for whatever reason? Drop their names in the comments.

Keep reading: Goal 90’s Team Of The Year for 2023

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