“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots ﬁrmly based in Turkey. I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish. During my childhood, my mother taught me to always be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are still values that I think about to this day.” (Mesut Ozil – 2018)
Even if the above words do not have a quotation, dozens of German and/or Turkish players, who are playing football across Europe, come to mind. The Labor Recruitment Agreement, which was signed between Turkey and Germany in Bonn, Germany on October 30, 1961, could have been expected to affect the structure of German society in the long term. However, it is unlikely to envisage that the agreement would have a direct impact on the fate of both countries’ football!
Another factor that influenced almost all European geography – and therefore the football climate – was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a large number of European countries. Aside from German reunification, Croatia came to the podium in the World Cup no later than 10 years of the breakup of Yugoslavia. In addition to African families that had been living as ‘guests’ particularly in the west of the continent for a long time, deep changes and transformations took place in the societies of the European countries on account of two big world wars in the first half as well as regional issues in the second half of the century. The effects of such changes and transformations on football became undoubtedly unavoidable.
All these factors were added to the commercialization of football and giant capital owners’ penetration to the football. the fact that the giant capital owners started to take an active role and the football became today. All in all, football took its current form.
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard come to the fore as the player duo that ideally exemplifies today’s football and the theme of this article. In other words, Griezmann, who already won the World Cup, and Hazard, who is a precious stone of Belgium that was defeated by France with Griezmann. Antoine, who was born in 1991 in France, was transferred to Spanish Real Sociedad when he was 14. At the same days, Eden – a Belgian coeval of Antione – was going to Lille. Today, Today, both players are wearing the national jerseys of the country in which they were born, and we will never know if they wear the national jerseys of the countries where they grew up. Just like they would have never left their home countries and would have continued their football training there!..
At the present time, UEFA defines locally-trained or ‘homegrown’ players as those who, regardless of their nationality, have been trained by their club or by another club in the same national association for at least three years between the age of 15 and 21. Within the context of this study, the player profile of the top 30 European national teams according to the latest FIFA’s ranking, were also analyzed by taking UEFA’s definition into consideration. The study also covers the period between the EURO 2016 and the UEFA Nations League.
Please note that players in the United Kingdom, including England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have a special status owing to the Home Nations Agreement.
A Player who, under the terms of art. 5, is eligible to represent more than one Association on account of his nationality, may play in an international match for one of these Associations only if, in addition to having the relevant nationality, he fulfils at least one of the following conditions:
- He was born on the territory of the relevant association;
- His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant association;
- One of his biological grandparents was born on the territory of the relevant association;
- He has engaged in a minimum of five years education under the age of 18 within the territory of the relevant association.
On the other hand, most of the key footballers of Ireland – although their numbers have decreased in recent years – have received their football education in the Premier League. Moreover, players’ homegrown data for Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which emerged after the breakup of Yugoslavia, show some deviations due to geographical issues. In this context, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are not included in the study.