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Talented footballers who were born in Cape Verde

Cape Verde or known locally as Cabo Verde is a small island country situated on the West Coast of Africa, in the central Atlantic ocean.

Known for its captivating beaches and coasts, Cape Verde has a combined land area of only 4,033 square kilometres.

footballers from cape verde
Cape Verde has 10 volcanic islands

The capital of Cabo Verde is on Santiago island and is known as Praia which is Portuguese for ‘beach’.

In 1951, Cape Verde was part of the overseas department of Portugal but in 1975 they became independent, but the primary language in Cape Verde remains Portuguese.

It remains one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa.

Despite being such a small country, Cape Verde has actually produced some of the world’s most talented footballers.

Here is a list of talented players who were born or had connections to the Cape Verde Islands.


Former Manchester United winger Luis Nani played for Portugal for many years, he was born in Praia, Cape Verde but his family emigrated to Portugal.

Despite opting to play for Portugal, Nani never forgets his roots and is always a Cape Verdean at heart.

Henrik Larsson

Former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United striker Henrik Larsson is actually from Helsingborg, Sweden but he does have Cape Verdean descent as his father was born there.

If he chose to keep his fathers name he would have been known as Henrik Da Rocha.

Henrik Larsson’s grandparents currently live in Cape Verde.

He chose to play for his birthplace in Sweden and he never looked back.

Gelson Martins

Just like Nani, Gelson Martins was born in the capital of Cape Verde in Praia.

In his teens, Martins moved to Portugal to embark on a footballing career which he spent his youth career at Benfica and Sporting CP.

The winger who currently plays for Monaco chose to represent the Portuguese national side.

Gelson Fernandes

Known for his short stint at Manchester City from 2007-2009, Gelson Fernandes was born in Praia in Cape Verde.

The defensive midfielder moved to Switzerland at the age of 5 with his mother, settling in Sion.

But unfortunately for Cabo Verde, Fernandes chose to represent Switzerland instead of Cape Verde because he felt Switzerland was his ‘culture’ and where his ‘roots’ are.

Gelson Fernandes played for Switzerland at EURO 2016 where he made substitute appearances.

Renato Sanches

PSG midfielder Renato Sanches has made a great career for himself, playing for Bayern Munich, Benfica and Lille including a loan spell at Swansea City which didn’t go to plan.

Sanches was born in the Lisbon metropolitan area to a father also named Renato Sanches but his mother was named Maria das Dores, from Cape Verde.

He joined Benfica’s youth team aged 9 and ended up representing Portugal at Euro 2016 where he lit up the tournament, winning the final against France.

Cabo Verde could have been one of the worlds greatest footballing nations if they were able to keep hold of these players but they are on the rise, and great things are to come for them!