Six Tunisians in Ligue 1 this season…
They are six, this season, to represent Tunisia in the championship of France. This is less than Brazil (19), Senegal (16) or Algeria (14), but more than Switzerland (5), Germany (4) or Italy (4).
Three are known faces for several years. The best known of them, Wahbi Khazri (31), a native of Ajaccio, has spent most of his career in France from his training in Bastia to Montpellier, which he joined this summer, via Bordeaux, Rennes or Saint-Etienne .
Another attacker Yoann Touzghar (35 years old), native of Avignon, has been scouring French lawns for more than fifteen years: after starting in National in Amiens, he had a few seasons in Ligue 1 (Lens, Troyes, Ajaccio), but it is at the lower level, in Ligue 2 (Amiens, Lens, Auxerre, Sochaux, Troyes) that he has evolved the most.
The attacking midfielder Saif-Eddine Khaoui (27) was poached by Marseille in Tours six years ago, but failed to win on the Canebière. The Parisian by birth therefore went to flourish in clubs of lower standing (Troyes, Caen or Clermont today).
On the novelty side, Lorient has spent a small fortune, €4 million, to afford the services of the international defender Montassar Talbi. The 24-year-old has already found his place in the Breton collective (15 matches played in L1 out of 15 possible, 100% tenure).
After leaving France at 15 for Southampton (England), after two years in Rennes, the full-back Yan Valery (23) returned to the West this summer, committing to Angers (9 matches). On his side, Elias Damergy (20) has dropped to fifth position in the hierarchy of goalkeepers in Rennes, where he will be out of contract next summer. He has never played for the pros before.
… but only two at the World Cup
The coach of the Carthage Eagles Jalel Kadri has selected three players playing in France, including two in the elite: Khazri, one of the executives of the selection, and Talbi, indisputable holder with Tunisia since the end of 2021. The third player from France is Ali Abdi (28), who is approaching a hundred matches in Ligue 2 (88) with Paris FC (2019-2021) and Caen (since 2021).
David Jemmali, the most experienced Tunisian in L1
Among the over sixty Tunisians who have attended the French football championship, David Jemmali sits at the top of the ranking of matches played in the elite. The right side trained in Cannes played a whopping 324 matches in Division 1 or Ligue 1, most of them for the Girondins de Bordeaux, with whom he was crowned French champion in 1999.
Khazri, active since 2009, ranks second with 248 appearances. The podium is completed by defender Alaeddine Yahia, 217 D1 and L1 matches with Guingamp, Saint-Etienne, Sedan, Nice and Lens, who also played 138 in Ligue 2.
Jemaâ, the most capped in the selection
Most Tunisians who attended the French championship also went through the national team. But it is not necessarily those who have left the most significant imprint in L1 or D1 that we find at the top of the ranking of the most capped players with the Carthage Eagles.
Thus, David Jemmali, who was an indisputable starter in Bordeaux at the end of the 90s in the right lane, only wore his country’s jersey ten times. Alaeddine Yahia, does little better with 25 capes.
It is actually the striker Issam Jemaâ who, among the players passed by France, has attended the national team the most, with 84 caps. The former Lens, Auxerre or Caen striker is also the top scorer in history, with 36 goals ahead of a certain … Wahbi Khazri (26 goals in 67 appearances).
Khazri is also ranked 5th among the most selected Ligue 1 Tunisians with the national team. Besides Jemaâ, he is preceded by defender Karim Haggui (ex-Strasbourg, 43 matches in L1 between 2004 and 2006), striker Adel Sellimi (40 matches with Nantes between 1996 and 1998) and midfielder Ferjani Sassi, passed by Metz (13 L1 and 26 L2 matches between 2014 and 2016).
Ten players present in Qatar born in France
Excluding the France team, 37 players born on French territory take part in the World Cup under the colors of another country. Tunisia has no less than 12 players with dual nationality in its ranks, ten of whom are Franco-Tunisian – the highest total with Senegal (10 too).
No wonder: Tunisia was part of the French colonial empire until its independence in 1956, causing a strong diaspora to France for several generations. Thus, many players have the choice, once professional, between France and Tunisia. And if some, like Wissam Ben Yedder, have opted for the rooster hit jersey, others have chosen to represent the Carthage Eagles.
The 10 Tunisians born in France at the World Cup: Mouez Hassen (Fréjus), Montassar Talbi (Paris), Nader Ghandri (Aubervilliers), Dylan Bronn (Cannes), Wajdi Kechrida (Nice), Hannibal Mejbri (Ivry-sur-Seine ), Aïssa Laïdouni (Livry-Gargan), Ellyes Skhiri (Lunel), Wahbi Khazri (Ajaccio) and Naïm Sliti (Marseille).