There will be a big international flavour to May 6’s La Liga Clasico, with players from 14 different countries set to feature in the likely Barcelona and Real Madrid squads for the game at the Camp Nou.
Stars from many of world football’s biggest and most successful countries will of course be present, including previous World Cup winning nations Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Uruguay. But players from other nations all over the world have also represented both Barcelona and Real Madrid throughout El Clasico’s long and storied history, among them these eight which demonstrate the true global reach of the biggest fixture in world football.
Below we take a look at a number of African footballers who have been part of the El Clasico history over the years.
1. Cameroon – Samuel Eto’o [Barcelona 2004-09]
Former Real Madrid youth player Samuel Eto’o featured in eight LaLiga Clasicos after moving to Barcelona in 2004, scoring four goals and providing three assists against his old side. A three-time league title winner with Barça, the centre-forward also played for Real Mallorca and scored 162 goals during his time in LaLiga, making him Africa’s all-time top-scorer in the competition.
2. Mali – Seydou Keita [Barcelona 2008-12]
Seydou Keita boasts an enviable record of five wins and one draw from his six LaLiga Clasicos as a Barcelona player. The Mali international is also the African to have played most times in the fixture across all competitions [nine]. A three-time LaLiga winner with Barça, he also represented Sevilla and Valencia during his long and successful career in Spanish football.
3. Ivory Coast – Yaya Toure [Barcelona 2007-10]
Yaya Toure won four of his six LaLiga Clasicos during his three seasons as a Barcelona player, including an unforgettable 6-2 victory at the Bernabeu in 2009. The Ivory Coast international and current Manchester City midfielder won back-to-back LaLiga titles with the Camp Nou side in 2008/09 and 2009/10.
4. Mexico – Hugo Sanchez [Real Madrid 1985-1992]
Hugo Sanchez scored eight goals in 13 LaLiga Clasicos during his seven seasons at Real Madrid. To this day the Mexican international’s five converted penalties remain a record for the fixture. Recently he recalled how the adrenaline rush from scoring in El Clasico was so great that he would jump even higher than normal during his signature somersault celebrations!
5. Philippines – Paulino Alcantara [Barcelona 1912-27]
Paulino Alcantara is to date the only Asian-born player to play for Barcelona’s senior side and scored the team’s first ever hat-trick against Real Madrid during a 6-6 Copa del Rey draw in 1916. A second El Clasico hat-trick ranks among his 369 goals in 357 game for the Catalans. Alcantara, who was born in Manila, also scored a hat-trick for the Philippines national side against Japan in Tokyo in 1917.
6. New Caledonia – Christian Karembeu [Madrid 1997-2000]
The only Pacific Islander to play in El Clasico is New Caledonia-born Christian Karembeu, who featured three times for Real Madrid against Barça in the late 1990s. A 1998 World Cup winner with France and a two-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Karembeu is now a LaLiga Ambassador who has attended El Clasico events in South Africa and Vietnam in recent years.
7. Chile – Ivan Zamorano [Real Madrid 1992-96]
Ex-Chile international Ivan Zamorano scored in five consecutive El Clasico matches in the 1990s, a record only broken by current Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo during the 2012/13 LaLiga season. ‘Bam Bam’ was fundamental as ‘Los Merengues’ won the 1994/95 LaLiga title, winning the top scorer award with 28 goals, including a hat-trick in a memorable 5-0 Clasico victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.
7. Dominican Republic – Mariano Diaz [Real Madrid 2016-17]
Last season’s LaLiga Clasico at the Camp Nou was the first to feature a player from a Caribbean nation when Dominican Republic international Mariano Diaz came on as a substitute for Real Madrid. He may have only been on the pitch for four minutes but it was enough for Sergio Ramos to equalise and gain a point which ultimately helped his side win the 2016/17 LaLiga title.