Euro 2024's alternate universe African Dream XI

Toni Kroos lifts lid on Germany training ground altercation (1:01)

Toni Kroos believes the training ground fallout between Antonio Rüdiger and Niclas Füllkrug is "good" for Germany. (1:01)

Ahead of the Euro 2024 kickoff on Friday, ESPN have picked a Dream Team of Germany-bound stars who could... in an alternate universe... have represented an African nation at international level.

While we'll never get to see these talents contesting the Africa Cup of Nations, we reckon this Dream XI would go the distance at the European Championships.

Brice Samba

Representing: France

Could've played for: Congo-Brazzaville

Slim pickings among goalkeepers for this Euros, although Samba sneaks in ahead of his Ligue 1 rival, Switzerland back-up Yvon Mvongo.

Samba isn't likely to feature during the Euros, although his new-found status as France's number three didn't appear on the cards two years ago, when he informed newly promoted Nottingham Forest of his desire to leave the club.

A move to Lens has been beneficial for both parties, with Samba registering 15 clean sheets and being named Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year in 22-23, helping the Blood and Gold into the Champions League.

His reward was a first cap in June 2023, and he now travels with Les Bleus albeit in a back-up capacity.

William Saliba

Representing: France

Could've played for: Cameroon

One of the finest centrebacks in world football, and even if he doesn't appear to entirely have the confidence of France boss Didier Deschamps, few in England doubt Saliba's qualities after another season in which he's played a key role in an Arsenal title challenge.

His work with the ball at his feet has improved dramatically this term - no other Gunners regular bettered Saliba's 92.6-percent pass-success rate in the Premier League - while his elegance makes him the natural successor to Raphaël Varane for the national side.

For a long time sought-after by Cameroon, Saliba even met with FECAFOOT president Samuel Eto'o in Yaounde last year, although by this time it was too late for him to switch allegiances.

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Antonio Rüdiger

Representing: Germany

Could've played for: Sierra Leone

Germany international Rudiger has made no secret of his love for Sierra Leone, his mother's homeland, and has invested heavily in charity projects in the West African nation.

Rudiger even celebrated with a Sierra Leonean flag at Wembley after winning the recent Champions League final as Real Madrid dispatched Borussia Dortmund, and regularly makes trips to the country.

Previously a UCL winner with Chelsea, he'll be the key man in Germany's backline as they look to conquer the continent on home soil.

Jeremie Frimpong

Representing: Netherlands

Could've played for: Ghana

One of the most in-form players in Europe heading into the tournament, Frimpong was magnificent for Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen last season, taking his game to new heights during their double-winning campaign.

The 23-year-old had a hand in 16 goals in the Bundesliga from his right wing-back berth, and also made his international debut in October.

This ended any hopes of a future with Ghana, where ex-Manchester City academy product Frimpong would have had to have contested the rightback berth with the likes of Tariq Lamptey and Denis Odoi.

Nathan Aké

Representing: Netherlands

Could've played for: Ivory Coast

Another Dutchman joining our defence is Ake, who makes the team as a leftback ahead of Joe Gomez and Eduardo Camavinga. None of the trio are naturals in the role, but Ake's versatility and defensive poise gets him the nod.

He'll likely play on the left side of a back three for the Netherlands in Germany, where his use of the ball, aerial presence and anticipation make him a key asset.

Eligible for the Ivory Coast via his late father, Moise, Ake was courted by former Elephants boss Marc Wilmots, before ultimately plumping for the land of his birth.

Eduardo Camavinga

Representing: France

Could've played for: Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo

Born in a refugee camp in the contested Angolan enclave of Cabinda, Camavinga was one of six siblings escaping the civil war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo during the early 200s.

His family ultimately settled in France, and after coming through the ranks at Stade Rennais, Camavinga began his journey in the French youth set-up.

Neither Angola nor the DRC ever got a look-in, with Camavinga - still only 21 - making his senior international debut in 2020 to become France's youngest player in over a century.

Perhaps appreciation for Camavinga is diluted due to him being something of a utility player, although his versatility in midfield and defence makes him a valuable asset for both club and country.

Aurélien Tchouaméni

Representing: France

Could've played for: Cameroon

Completing an all-Afro-French central midfield is Tchouameni, who will be fending off competition from Youssouf Fofana, N'Golo Kanté and Warren Zaine-Emery in an absolutely stacked France squad.

He's blossomed into a world-class central midfielder - helping Real Madrid accept the loss of Casemiro - and leaving the Merengues' engine room in good hands as Toni Kroos also exits.

Tchouameni was born in France to two Cameroonian parents and could have been the Indomitable Lions' midfield general had he not opted to represent Les Bleus.

Bukayo Saka

Representing: England

Could've played for: Nigeria

While Saka was courted by the Nigerian Football Federation as a youngster at Arsenal, it soon became apparent that he was destined for a future with the Three Lions as he began to establish himself with the Gunners.

So instead of supporting Victor Osimhen for the Super Eagles, he'll be looking to star in tandem with Harry Kane as the tournament favourites attempt to make up for their shortcoming in the final at Wembley three years ago.

While the 22-year-old showcased his versatility at the start of his career, he looks to have nailed down England's right-wing berth, but will there be any hangover after Arsenal's latest near-miss in the Premier League title race?

Jamal Musiala

Representing: Germany

Could've played for: Nigeria

Like Saka, Musiala represents another of the prominent Nigeria-origin players in world football who opted for a European team rather than the West African giants.

The likes of Noah Okafor, Joshua Zirkzee and Eberechi Eze could all have made this dream team, and will be competing at the Euros while Super Eagles fans watch on and wonder what might have been.

Musiala might be the pick of the bunch, with the youngster - he's still only 21 - having emerged as Germany's next big thing due to his magnificent dribbling, change of pace, and maturity.

This is his third major tournament with the Mannschaft, although he'll have to shake off a sub-par season with Bayern Munich if he's to inspire Germany to the crown.

Rafael Leão

Representing: Portugal

Could've played for: Angola, Sao Tome

One of the world's most eye-catching players since swapping LOSC Lille for AC Milan in 2019, Leao's speed and ability to beat a man make him an absolute nightmare for fullbacks to contain.

He's not coming off the back of his strongest campaign in Serie A - despite netting nine - but could still prove a difference-maker for Portugal at the Euros.

The 25-year-old was born next to Lisbon, to a mother from Sao Tome and a father from Angola.

Kylian Mbappé

Representing: France

Could've played for: Cameroon, Algeria

Eligible for Cameroon (via his father) and Algeria (via his mother), Mbappe ultimately opted to represent France, following in the footsteps of his idol Zinedine Zidane.

He's gone on to become one of the world's greatest players, winning a World Cup with France in 2018, and becoming a megastar at Paris Saint-Germain before signing for Real Madrid recently.

Had he represented the Indomitable Lions, he'd already - at 25 - be in the conversation for Africa's greatest ever player, and it would have been fascinating to see how Mbappe would have dealt with the challenges of a Nations Cup.

Last year, Mbappe visited Cameroon, where he received a hero's welcome, for a three-day tour, and his younger brother Ethan may still get the opportunity to feature for the national side.


Yvon Mvogo (Switzerland | Cameroon), Dayot Upamecano (France | Guinea-Bissau), Manuel Akanji (Germany | Nigeria), Kobbie Mainoo (England | Ghana), Leroy Sané (Germany | Senegal), Ousmane Dembélé (France | Mauritania, Senegal, Mali), Nico Williams (Spain | Ghana), Jérémy Doku (Belgium | Ghana), Lamine Yamal (Spain | Equatorial Guinea, Morocco), Loïs Openda (Belgium | Morocco, Congo)