Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge made history on August 11th when he became the first Filipino player to be represented in the Premier League. The stopper was promoted with the Welsh side last season but was unable to stop his side being defeated 2-0 by Bournemouth at the Vitality. We take a look at five other players who became the first player in the English top flight to represent their nation.
1. Mo Barrow – Gambia
Source: Transfer Rumours UK via Twitter
Mo Barrow remains the only Gambian to have played in the English top flight. The lightning-quick striker was born in Banjul and made 51 appearances in the Premier League before transferring to Reading. He is highly rated by Royals fans and netted ten times during the 2017-18 Championship season. Barrow’s upbringing was far from straightforward but he got his opportunity at Norkopping following his Dad taking a job as a plumber in Sweden. He has been linked with a move back to the Premier League with Leicester just one of the many clubs reportedly interested in his services.
2. Ali-Al Habsi – Oman
Popular goalkeeper Ali-Al Habsi chalked up a number of Premier League appearances during his time at Bolton and Wigan. He remains the only player to have represented Oman and has 118 caps for his nation. He spent a year in the North West of England before getting his opportunity in 2007 and he never looked back. In 2010, he joined the Latics and enjoyed a busy spell between the posts. He established himself as an expert penalty stopper regularly thwarting a number of players from the spot.
3. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Armenia
Source: Football Polls via Twitter
Henrikh Mkhitaryan remains the only Armenian to have competed in the Premier League and is also the captain of his country. The attacking midfielder is a fan favourite and is currently plying his trade at the Emirates. He arrived in North London as part of the swap deal with Alexis Sanchez and scored twice in his first twelve appearances for the club. He enjoyed previous spells at Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund before making the move to Manchester United in 2016. He will be hoping to help his current side to finish above his former employers this season with Manchester United’s odds to win Premier League 2019 available at 18.5 whilst Arsenal are a slightly tastier 48.00 with Betfair Exchange. It looks set to be an interesting battle between the pair.
4. Victor Wanyama – Kenya
Surprisingly, Wanyama still remains the only Kenyan to have represented his country in the Premier League. He made his international debut at the age of 15 and has since chalked up 50 caps for the African nation. A successful trial in Belgium led to his first professional contract at Beerschot before Celtic came calling. His powerful and athletic style of play persuaded Southampton to part with £12.5 million before he opted to team up with former boss Mauricio Pochettino once again at Spurs.
5. Lorik Cana – Albania
Lorik Cana played 35 times for Sunderland in the Premier League and became the first ever Albania to be represented in the top flight. He was immediately handed the captains armband upon his arrival in Wearside. At the age of 32, he had plenty of experience of playing around Europe having previously been at Marseille and PSG. He made 93 appearances for this country and has since moved back to his homeland to take up the position as grassroots ambassador for kids football.
Neil Etheridge is the latest in a long line of footballers to be the first representative of their country in the Premier League. There are still a number of nations who are yet to feature in the English top tier but the division has a worldwide appeal and the current total, which stands at 108 countries is likely to increase over the next few years.