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.
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.
It’s been 1️⃣ year since my #CapeVerdeTour! 🇨🇻 Amazing moments and people that I remember with a lot of love. I can’t wait to go back! 🔙📷📔#ThrowbackThursday #Throwback #Nani #Nani17 #CaboVerde #Moments #Memories #Family #roots #Nani360 #solidarity #Kids #capeverde pic.twitter.com/2W9RvtcdVl— Nani (@luisnani) November 12, 2020
Despite opting to play for Portugal, Nani never forgets his roots and is always a Cape Verdean at heart.
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 was eligible to play for Cape Verde. pic.twitter.com/FvqHivbD1G— FloSimba (@FloSimba88) June 24, 2018
Henrik Larsson’s grandparents currently live in Cape Verde.
Tour guide saw my top. & said for me an extra location on the Cape Verde tour. Only took me to Henrik Larsson’s grandparents home. Waw !👏💚😍👑 pic.twitter.com/OC1ZlarRxC— Tommy Cummings (@TommyCummings67) June 26, 2017
He chose to play for his birthplace in Sweden and he never looked back.
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 Martins, also of Cape Verdean descent, came up Sporting’s academy with him and was one of Semedo’s best friends at the club.— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) October 5, 2019
Days after Semedo’s arrest, Gelson scored a stoppage time winner vs. Moreirense and revealed his shirt: “With you until the end of the world.” pic.twitter.com/h4KJpBWiLo
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.
Born in Cape Verde, Gelson Fernandes migrated to Switzerland with his family when he was 5 years old. Opting to represent his adopted nation, Fernandes scored the winning goal in Switzerland’s upset of Spain in their opening Group H match at the 2010 World Cup. 62/x pic.twitter.com/L1C2CDLaRE— Zach Bigalke (@zbigalke) December 14, 2022
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.
Renato Sanches: His father is from SãoTomé&Príncipe and mother from Cape Verde; represents Portugal 🇸🇹🇨🇽🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/5MnQsHCWBt— FPL_Africa (@Futbal_Afrique) June 4, 2016
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!