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What happened to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s France Under-21 team-mates?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played one game for France's Under-21 side before committing to Gabon

First came Daniel Cousin. Then followed Didier Ndong. Mario Lemina wasn’t far behind.

Now Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will become the fourth Gabonese to play in the Premier League when he makes his Arsenal debut.

But it could have been so different. Aubameyang was eligible to play for Italy, Spain and France an international level.


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Did you know that Gabon’s national dish is Poulet Nyembwe?

His first appearance for Gabon came when he was a Dijon player in March 2009, on loan from AC Milan and a million miles away from the French, Italian and Spanish national squads.

One month earlier he’d had a brief taste of international football with France when he stepped out for the Under-21s against Tunisia in a 1-1 draw.

It’s fair to say the players he shared a changing room with on that day have had mixed results in the following nine years.

Who went on to play for France’s senior side?

Star student from Aubameyang’s Class of 2009 is none of than Moussa Sissoko- as much as that might surprise Spurs fans- given the 28-year-old has gone on to make 53 appearances for France.

Silver medal goes to Mamadou Sakho, who’s played 28 times for France, with bronze collected by 15-cap Reims midfielder Marvin Martin.

Just missing out on a place on the podium is Watford’s Etienne Capoue, who’s gone on to make seven appearances for France.

Capoue captained the side on that day in 2009 with Sakho starting in defence, Sissoko lining up in midfield and Martin having to make do with 37 minutes off the bench.

AFP or licensors
The most talented French midfielder since Zizou pictured with Paul Pogba

Anyone else switch international allegiance like Aubameyang?

Plenty of them.

Goalkeeper Johny Placide now finds himself keeping goal for Oldham Athletic with 20 caps for Haiti to his name.

Loic Nestor is a one-cap wonder for both France’s Under-21s and Guadeloupe, which is an impressive double.

His fellow defender Cheikh M’Bengue has made 26 appearances for Senegal as has Lamine Gassama, who’s picked up 31 caps.

Former West Ham midfielder Sofiane Feghouli was on the brink of a France call up under Raymond Domenech but turned down the opportunity and has now made 42 appearances for Algeria.

Bakary Sako, who represented Mali at Under-17s then switched to France then switched back again, has been capped 21 times.

Reuters
Guess who?

Who’s failed to make the grade?

Five months after playing in that game a certain Gabriel Obertan signed for Man United, which was the highlight of a fairly underwhelming career.

If you were wondering what he’s up to now Obertan can be found in the Bulgarian Premier League.

Defender Paul Baysse has just returned to Bordeaux after ten years away from the club.

Yohan Mollo, who started on the right for France against Tunisia, has just been released by Fulham, while Jires Kembo Ekoko is at Turkish side Bursaspor.

But we’ve saved the best until last.

France’s goalscorer on the night was none other than David N’Gog, who was at Liverpool at the time.

He ensured cult status by scoring against Man United but that was about as good as it got. Penny for anyone who can tell us where he’s playing now*.

(*It’s Ross County)


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