The total number of Portuguese players in the team reached 11. Yes, 11! Among them are goalkeeper José Sá, Bruno Jordão, Pedro Neto, Ruben Neves, who is now the team captain following Conor Coady’s departure, Daniel Podence, Gonçalo Guedes, Chiquinho, Nelson Semedo, Tóti, aforementioned Nunes, and João Moutinho. It’s well-known that influential football agent Jorge Mendes has played a role in the club, and the Chinese owners, Fosun International, consider his opinion. In comparison, after Coady’s exit, there are only three English players left, with only one of them being over 22 years old and having played more than 50 matches for “The Wolves.” It’s worth mentioning that Wolverhampton Wanderers have recently seen several more Portuguese arrivals, including Rui Patrício and Diogo Jota.
The Sicilian club established itself in Serie A during the late 1900s. Catania’s team boasted numerous talented players, some with significant international experience. After their promotion to the top flight in the 2006/07 season, the club decided to heavily rely on Argentine players. Year after year, the presence of “gauchos” in the squad increased rapidly, reaching a peak of 14 players in the 2010/11 season. Notable among them were goalkeeper Mariano Andújar, defender Matías Silvestre, Ezequiel Schelotto, Mariano Izco, Papu Gómez, and Maxi López. The strategy proved successful, with Catania narrowly missing out on European qualification the following season. Unfortunately, the club changed ownership, faced financial troubles, and currently competes in Serie D.
The modest Belgian team had decided to heavily rely on African footballers, especially those born in Ivory Coast. Their lineup was something like 10 Africans and 1 Belgian player. Some of these players went on to represent their national teams, such as goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, who played over 80 matches for the “Elephants,” and Emmanuel Eboué, who made a transfer to Arsenal and played over 200 matches for the “Gunners.” During that campaign, Beveren managed to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Cup but finished last in their group. Just a year later, the team’s license was seriously threatened, and in 2010, it officially went bankrupt. It had to merge with other clubs, and currently, it still exists under the name Sportkring Beveren and competes in the second division of Belgian football.
Let’s talk about the notable Brazilian contingent that once thrived at Shakhtar but came to an end due to the war in Ukraine. It’s challenging to enumerate all the Carioca players who graced Shakhtar’s ranks in the past two decades because there were simply so many of them. The “miners” boasted talents like Willian, Fernandinho, Luiz Adriano, Alex Teixeira, Douglas Costa, and even Fred! Among their ranks, you could also find former CSKA Moscow striker Júnior Moraes, who became a naturalized Ukrainian and represented the national team. In the memorable 2009 UEFA Cup final, five Brazilians—Fernandinho, Ilsinho, Jadson, Willian, and Luiz Adriano—started for the “miners.” Many of the South American players who passed through Shakhtar were eventually sold to prominent European clubs for substantial fees.