The holidays are here for footballers. They’re taking the opportunity to have a good time.
Some head for Africa, either to reconnect with their homelands, or for humanitarian reasons, or even just for tourism. Here’s a look at some of the world’s football stars who come to the continent.
European national teams are full of players of African origin. From Kylian Mbappé and Bukayo Saka to Cody Gakpo and Antonio Rudiger. The latter are not forgetting their origins. While their sporting choice remains the European national teams, especially as most of them were born there, these footballers have not forgotten their parental roots.
That’s why they come to the continent, either to recharge their batteries or for humanitarian causes.
The latest is Kylian Mbappé. The Parisian is currently visiting Cameroon, his father’s homeland, for the first time in his life. This Friday 07 July, he will be visiting a school in Yaoundé that his foundation has funded to renovate. He will be received by Cameroon’s Prime Minister.
Mbappé will play a football match with Vent d’Etoudi, a second division team of which Yannick Noah is president. He will also stay at the Village Noah, a tourism and leisure centre in the Etoudi district (owned by Noah).
Finally, Kylian will end his short trip with a return to his father’s village: on the island of Djébalé, on Saturday. However, the French international is not the only “child of Africa” to return to the soil of the dark continent.
Connection to the land of ancestors and humanitarianism
In recent years, with the boom in social networking, nobody can hide any more, especially football stars.Everything they do off the pitch is spied on.
One point to note is that more and more players of African descent are spending their holidays in their homelands. They take advantage of this to invest in social issues.
Germany’s Antonio Rudiger, for example, is making a name for himself with his regular visits to Sierra Leone. But also his humanitarian actions (financing health operations, etc.) through his foundation. And this year, he is currently spending his holidays in Gambia. This practice has been emulated by others.
Cody Gakpo, the Liverpool striker, has also visited his father’s country, Togo. Like his father, he is also involved in philanthropy.
There is also the matter of establishing ties with the motherland and relatives back home: Malick Thiaw of AC Milan was seen spending the Eid feast in Senegal.
There’s also Alexandro Baldé, the Spanish left-back for FC Barcelona. The latter recently spent some time in Guinea-Bissau, his homeland.
Last year, Germany’s Thilo Kehrer visited Burundi, his mother’s country of origin.
Arsenal star Bukayo Saka also visited his native land Nigeria. This was in June 2023. His videos even made the rounds on social networks.
Ghanaian by adoption Memphis Depay has become a regular on the Gold Coast. Each time he visits, he puts on a radiant face, showing a closeness to the locals that he has rarely displayed in Europe.
It’s as if the Ghanaian star of Atlético Madrid has rediscovered a part of himself.
And this year, 2023, he has brought along his compatriot of Surinamese origin, Wijnaldum. No doubt his team-mate told him about the good vibes and warmth of Africa and he took the plunge. Memphis has multiplied his humanitarian actions in Ghana.
Players with no African ties driven by voluntary work
The African continent has long been a magnet for philanthropists to help people facing difficulties. This is nothing new. Alongside African players who have foundations, their European counterparts are also investing in this area in Africa.
This year, Lille player Remy Cabella was seen in Senegal playing with youngsters, giving away jerseys, gifts and other items to women in a village in Kaffrine.
He also visited schools. His activities are carried out in collaboration with the association Vision du Monde. Brazilian Ronaldinho, after visiting Guinea, will also be visiting DR Congo, on 21 and 22 July.
Enchanting holiday destinations
In recent years, Tanzania and Zanzibar have played host to some of the world’s most famous names with their extraordinary sites.
Footballers are not to be outdone.
Many of them take photos of themselves in these heavenly locations.
Gana Gueye has been spotted there in the past.
This year, Kingsley Coman is another regular.
Sergi Busquets has succumbed to the publicity.
Kurzawa and Boubacar Kamara have also been seen there in the past. The range of activities on offer ranges from safaris to walks on the turquoise waters.
There is plenty to choose from in Africa, hence the choice of different sites for others.
Pepe Guardiola, a follower of intellectualism, is in Egypt to visit the cultural landscapes and the remains of the pyramids.
Camavinga is in Morocco, where the medinas, beaches and souks offer magnificent places to relax and enjoy a holiday.
In Senegal too, some stars manage to spend their holidays without being identified. Ryan Giggs, it seems, was a regular visitor in his heyday.
Obligatory holidays in the homeland for local stars
The big African stars are also seen in their countries of origin with their family and friends. Almost all of them do the same things. Victor Osimhen was seen playing in Nigeria with a selection of friends. The same goes for Sadio Mané, who recently organised a get-together at his home, as he occasionally does in Bambali. Then there’s André Onana. There’s nothing extraordinary about these practices. Their upbringing demands humility, loyalty and courtesy. On pain of incurring popular rejection. No snobbery allowed!