Marco van Basten once labelled a Dutch-born starlet, who snubbed the Netherlands for Morocco, as "stupid", but his comment came back to haunt him. Here are other African players who will participate in the next World Cup after snubbing European nations.
"How stupid can you be to choose Morocco if you are in contention for the Dutch national team?" Van Basten, who was the Dutch national team's assistant coach at the time, asked in May 2016, as quoted by The Guardian, after hearing that Hakim Ziyech decided to represent Morocco instead.
The 24-year-old Ajax Amsterdam midfielder came through the Dutch youth ranks, representing the Netherlands at U19, U20 and U21 levels. He even received a Netherlands call-up in May 2015, but was injured and could not play.
Ziyech, whose father is buried in Morocco, later seemed to be overlooked by the Dutch and opted to represent the African nation. After controversially not being called up by Herve Renard for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Ziyech's decision now has a happy ending as he will be in Russia next year, while Van Basten's Netherlands did not qualify.
Ziyech is not the only African star who made the decision to snub his European nation of birth and instead opted to represent the mother country of his parents.
Arsenal starlet Alex Iwobi was born in England and represented the Three Lions at U16, U17 and U18 levels, but decided to take his senior career to Nigeria, with whom he qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
Similarly, Real Madrid youngster Achraf Hakimi opted to play for Morocco instead of his birth country, Spain.
Below are some of the players who snubbed Europe for Africa:
Sofiane Boufal (Morocco, snubbed France)
William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria, snubbed Netherlands)
Younes Belhanda (Morocco, snubbed France)
Ola Aina (Nigeria, snubbed England)
Keita Balde (Senegal, snubbed Spain)
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco, snubbed Spain)
M'Baye Niang (Senegal, snubbed France)
Mehdi Benatia (Morocco, snubbed France)
Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia, snubbed France)
Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal, snubbed France)
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria, snubbed England)
Moussa Sow (Senegal, snubbed France)