It’s a fact. Nabil Fekir originally chose to play for the Algerian national team. This was during a good period following the Desert Foxes’ achievement of reaching the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup, where everyone was feeling positive.
The manager at the time, Christian Gourcuff, said Fekir chose Algeria at first and his whole family wanted him to play for the North African side. Gourcuff then phoned Fekir directly and said he wanted to call him up for international friendlies against Qatar and Oman in 2015.
“Fekir called me to tell me his decision to wear the Algeria shirt” said Gourcuff, but went on to add that “three hours after his first call, he called me to say he had changed his mind.” (Quotes via ESPN)
The reason for changing his mind is that Fekir received a further four phone calls from members of the Lyon board and the French FA. They all did their best to sway him the other way, promise him playing time and convince him that France was a better career option.
Of course, the rest is history. Fekir went on to pick France a week later and appeared for them. Algerians in France threatened his family. But Fekir’s grandfather who still lives in Algeria was left in tears. Algerians were used to seeing stars born in France pick the latter, but this was the cruellest way to do so.
Euro 2016 was being hosted in France a year later, but Fekir missed the tournament due to a serious knee injury. Many Algerians saw this as karma and his punishment for betraying Algeria.
Now the 24-year-old attacking midfielder is in contention to start in a World Cup quarter-final and is being strongly linked with a move to Liverpool. This will only make the pain stronger, seeing his potential unfold.