Colourful Pioneers

It is clear that European football is getting increasingly 'colourful' each year, as far as active players are concerned. However, that not only happens at club level, but also in the national teams.

Before we continue with listing pioneering 'coloured' players by country, we need to establish what exactly we will mean by this term. Some may understand this term to include for instance, gypsies, arabs, american indians or other groups whose skin colour tends towards black. However, below we will understand the term to include only those of 'negroid' colour, though this may include players from 'mixed' families.

Over the course of time, more than two dozen national teams currently belonging to UEFA have included such players. Below we list all these countries and for each the first ever such player to appear for them. Obviously, the former major colonial powers have included most of these. The first national team in Europe to include a 'coloured' player was Scotland, with Andrew Watson, in the 19th century. Interestingly, neighbours England waited almost a century longer before fielding right back Viv Anderson. Ahead of England, Portugal and France included such players in the 1930s and the Netherlands in 1960.

Later, 'coloured' players appeared in national teams of countries with prospering economies attracting mass immigration, like the Scandinavian ones, Germany and Switzerland. More recently, so-called 'naturalised' players appeared, who were born in other corners of the world but obtained citizenship in European countries after spending a few (successful) footballing years there. As examples, we give Olisadebe (Poland), Batista (Greece) or Ndoumbouk (Armenia). Finally, there is the case of players such as Liverani (Italy) and Sowunmi (Hungary), who came from 'mixed' families.

One may remark that none of these players have been (or are) major stars, but all of them have earned the distinction of having been pioneers in their respective countries.

Country      First Black Player        Debut Date, Match; Number of Caps
Armenia      Balep Ba Ndoumbouk        18- 2-2004 Armenia     0-2 Hungary
                                        3 caps  0 goals

Austria      Helmut Köglberger          5- 9-1965 Hungary     3-0 Austria
                                       28 caps  6 goals

Belgium      Dimitri Mbuyu              4- 2-1987 Portugal    1-0 Belgium
                                        1 cap   0 goals

Bosnia-Herz. Ricardo Lago Santos        9-10-2004 Bosnia-H.   0-0 Serbia-M.
             "Baiano"                   1 cap   0 goals

Bulgaria     Tiago Silva               17- 8-2005 Bulgaria    3-1 Turkey
                                        1 cap   0 goals

Denmark      Carsten Dethlefsen         9- 3-1994 England     1-0 Denmark
                                        1 cap   0 goals

England      Viv Anderson              29-11-1978 England     1-0 Czechoslovakia
                                       30 caps  0 goals

Faroe Isl.   Sonni Ragnar Nattestad  * 19-11-2013 Malta       3-2 Faroe Islands
                                       25 caps  2 goals

France       Raoul Diagne              15- 2-1931 France      1-2 Czechoslovakia
                                       17 caps  0 goals

Germany      Erwin Kostedde            22-12-1974 Malta       0-1 West Germany
                                        3 caps  0 goals

Greece       Daniel Lima Batista       12-10-1994 Greece      4-0 Finland
                                       13 caps  2 goals

Hungary      Thomas Sowunmi          * 18- 8-1999 Hungary     1-1 Moldova
                                       10 caps  1 goal

Ireland      Christopher Hughton       29-10-1979 Ireland     3-2 USA
                                       53 caps  1 goal

Israel       Baruch Dego             * 12- 2-2003 Israel      2-0 Armenia
                                        2 caps  0 goals

Italy        Miguel Angel Montuori     15- 2-1956 Italy       2-0 France
                                       12 caps  2 goals

Luxembourg   Eugène Afrika             10-10-1998 Poland      3-0 Luxembourg 
                                        2 caps  0 goals

Macedonia    Aginaldo de Jesus Braga   17- 4-2002 Macedonia   1-0 Finland
                                        6 caps  0 goals

Malta        Chuks Nwoko                6- 2-1998 Malta       1-1 Albania
                                       46 caps  1 goal

Netherlands  Humphrey Mijnals            3- 4-1960 Netherlands 4-2 Bulgaria
                                        3 caps  0 goals
Norway       John Carew                18-11-1998 Egypt       1-1 Norway
                                       91 caps 24 goals

Poland       Emmanuel Olisadebe        16- 8-2000 Romania     1-1 Poland
                                       25 caps 11 goals

Portugal     Guilherme Espirito Santo  28-11-1937 Spain       1-2 Portugal
                                        8 caps  1 goal

Scotland     Andrew Watson             12- 3-1881 England     6-1 Scotland
                                        3 caps  0 goals

Spain        Vicente Engonga Maté      23- 9-1998 Spain       1-0 Russia
                                       14 caps  1 goal

Sweden       Jean-Paul Vonderburg      14- 2-1990 UAE         2-1 Sweden
                                        4 caps  0 goals

Switzerland  Raymond Bardel            15- 4-1951 Switzerland 2-3 West Germany
                                        2 caps  0 goals

Turkey       Vahap Özaltay             14-10-1927 Turkey      3-1 Bulgaria
                                        1 cap   0 goals

Wales        Ted Parris                 5-12-1931 Ireland     4-0 Wales
                                        1 cap   0 goals

About this document

With thanks to Erich Ploechl and Baki Demirkiran

Prepared and maintained by Razvan Toma for the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation

Author: Razvan Toma (
Last updated: 31 Jan 2019

(C) Copyright Razvan Toma and RSSSF 2005/19
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