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26.05.2008 14:06

The first Malian

Jordi Clos

Seydou Keita will become the first player from Mali to wear the FC Barcelona shirt. Up until now foreign stars from 40 nationalities have played for the first team.

The signing of Seydou Keita increases the number of nationalities to have passed through Barça’s first team to 41, as the player is the first Malian to sign for the Catalan club. The midfielder will also be the ninth African in the club’s history, following on behind Touré Yaya, the last one to arrive.

Keita is one of the key players in the Mali team as was seen at the most recent African Cup of Nations tournament, although he gave his best performance in an international championship at the under-20s World Cup in 1999 when he was chosen as best player.

England is biggest exporter

England has provided Barça with more players than any other country. 50 English footballers have turned out for the first team and some of them such as Walter Wild and the Witty brothers played key roles in the birth of the club. 49 Englishmen played in the club’s first 26 years (1899-1925). Since then the list has only be added to by Gary Lineker (1986-1989).

Other European countries to have provided large numbers of players are Holland (18 players), France (14) and Germany (14).

The importance of South America

MARADONA009.jpgAfter England the countries that have contributed most players to Barça are in South America. 27 Brazilians and 21 Argentines have played for the club including such legendary figures as Romário and Ronaldinho and Maradona and Messi.

Next comes Uruguay with 13 players, most from the 1950s and 1960s.
The first Malian
Nine Africans
Seydou Keyta will be the ninth African to play for the first team. His predecessors are Angolan Mendonça (1966), Cameroonians Suffo (1996) and Eto'o (2004), Ivory Coast’s Touré (2007), Nigerians Amunike (1996), Okunowo (1998) and Babangida (1998) and the Senegalese Serigne (1998). Mali thus becomes the sixth African nation to have a Barça player.

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