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Academy Analysis Group A: Which clubs produced the most players at World Cup 2018?
Simon Winter
Simon Winter
May 28, 2018
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Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.

(Feature Image Credit: By Iklanmaju1988 (i made on my own) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Competing at this summer’s World Cup in Russia will be the zenith of many player’s careers. Being handed the opportunity to represent your country on football’s biggest stage is one of football’s greatest honours.

Every international footballer has a fascinating back-story of their own. Each player is a product of their environment, taken in as a raw talent and moulded into the genuine article over a number of years. In our multi-part series, we take a look at the clubs responsible for coaching each player at the World Cup through their formative years.

On part one, we take a closer look at the club academies responsible for producing the players contesting World Cup 2018 Group A: Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay

Read more: World Cup 2018: Potential Breakout Stars in Russia

EGYPT (29-man preliminary squad)

Egypt predictions, betting tips and match preview

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Essam El-Hadary – Damietta
Sherif Ekramy – Al Ahly
Mohamed Awad – Ismaily SC
Mohamed El-Shenawy – Al Ahly

Ahmed Fathy – Ismaily
Ahmed Elmohamady – Ghazi El Mahalla
Mohamed Abdel-Shafy – Zamalek
Ahmed Hegazi – Ismaily
Omar Gaber – Zamalek
Ali Gabr – Ismaily
Saad Samir – Al Ahly
Karim Hafez – Ah Ahly
Ayman Ashraf – Ah Ahly
Amro Tarek – Asyut Cement
Mahmoud Hamdy – Tala-ea El-Gaish

Mohamed Elneny – Al Ahly
Abdallah Said – Ismaily
Shikabala – Zamalek
Mahmoud Hassan – Al Ahly
Ramadan Sobhi – Al Ahly
Tarek Hamed – Tala-ea El-Gaish
Kahraba – Al Ahly
Amr Warda – Al Ahly
Sam Morsy – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Mahmoud Abdel Aziz – El Qanah FC

Mohamed Salah – El Mokawloon
Marwan Mohsen – Petrojet
Ahmed Hassan Mahgoub – Al Ahly
Ahmed Gomaa – Ghazi El Mahall


Based in the capital Cairo, Egyptian powerhouse Al-Ahly are the most dominant club domestically, holding the record for all-time Egyptian League wins (40) and Cup wins (36). Their domination extends into the Egyptian national team, with 11 Al-Ahly academy graduates in Hector Cuper’s preliminary squad. 6 current Al-Ahly players are involved too, the most notable of which is veteran defender Ahmed Fathy. Fathy has played 124 times for his country.

Interestingly, three of Egypt’s top five all-time leading appearance makers came through the Al-Ahly academy. Hossam Hassan (169 caps), Ibrahim Hassan (131) caps and the aforementioned Ahemd Fathy rank second, fourth and fifth in the rankings respectively. Hossam Hassan is also Egypt’s all time leading goal scorer having netted 69 times for his country between 1985 and 2006.

Sam Morsy is the only member of the current squad who was produced from an academy outside Egypt. The 26-year old midfielder, whose father is Egyptian, was born in Wolverhampton in England and attended Wolves academy between 1999 and 2008. Morsy has played just 3 times for his country since 2016.

The Numbers:

Al-Ahly – 11
Ismaily – 5
Zamalek – 3

RUSSIA (28-man preliminary squad)

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Igor Akinfeev – CSKA Moscow
Vladimir Gabulov – Mozdok
Andrey Lunyov – Torpedo Moscow
Soslan Dzhanayev – CSKA Moscow

Sergei Ignashevich – Torpedo Moscow
Igor Smolnikov – Lokomotiv Moscow
Fyodor Kudryashov – FC Sibiryak Brtask
Vladimir Granat – Lokomotiv Ulan-Ude
Roman Neustädter – Mainz 05
Andrei Sergeyevich Semyonov – Spartak Moscow
Ilya Kutepov – Dynamo Stavropol
Konstantin Rausch – Hannover 96
Mário Figueira Fernandes – Sao Caetano

Yuri Zhirkov – Spartak Tambov
Alan Dzagoev – Yunost Vladikavkaz
Aleksandr Samedov – Spartak Moscow
Aleksandr Golovin – DyuSSh Kaltan/CSKA Moscow
Aleksandr Yerokhin – Lokomotiv Moscow
Denis Cheryshev – Sporting Gijon/Real Madrid
Roman Zobnin – Konoplyov football academy
Yury Gazinsky – Smena Komsomolsk-na-Amure
Daler Kuzyayev – Zenit Saint Petersburg
Anton Miranchuk – Lokomotiv Moscow
Aleksandr Tashayev – Dynamo Moscow

Fyodor Smolov – Sokol Saratov
Artem Dzyuba – Spartak Moscow
Aleksei Miranchuk – Lokomotiv Moscow
Fyodor Chalov – CSKA Moscow


Unsurprisingly, the big Moscow clubs are responsible for producing the highest number of current Russian international squad members. CSKA, Spartak, Torpedo and Lokomotiv have produced a combined 12 players for Coach Stanislav Cherchesov.

Interestingly, Cherchesov himself turned out for two of those Moscow giants in his playing days. He had three stints in all at Spartak between 1984 and 2002. He also had a short spell at Lokomotiv in 1988.

Mário Figueira Fernandes honed his talents on the dusty training pitches of Sao Caetano in Brazil.  The 27-year old represented his South American homeland at full international level as recently as 2014. Having played his club football there since 2012, Fernandes was granted Russian citizenship in 2016, and made his debut for his new country a year later against South Korea.

The Numbers:

CSKA – 4
Lokomotiv Moscow – 4
Spartak Moscow – 3

SAUDI ARABIA (28-man preliminary squad)

Saudi Arabia predictions, betting tips and match preview

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Yasser Al Mosailem – Ah-Ahli
Assaf Al-Qarni – Al-Wehda
Abdullah Al-Mayouf – Al-Hilal
Mohammed Al-Owais – Al-Shabab

Osama Hawsawi – Al-Wahda
Omar Hawsawi – Al-Shoulla
Mansoor Al-Harbi – Ah-Ahli
Yasser Al-Shahrani – Al-Quadisyah
Motaz Hawsawi – Ah-Ahli
Saeed Al Mowalad – Al-Ahli
Mohammed Al-Breik – Al-Hialal
Mohammed Jahfali – Al-Faisaly
Ali Al Bulaihi – Al-Nahda

Taisir Al-Jassim – Hajer Club
Yahya Al-Shehri – Al-Ettifaq
Nawaf Al Abed – Al-Hilal
Salman Al-Faraj – Al-Hilal
Abdulmalek Al-Khaibri – Al-Qadisiyah
Salem Al-Dawsari – Al-Hilal
Housain Al-Mogahwi – Al-Adalah
Abdullah Otayf – Al-Shabab
Mohamed Kanno – Al-Ettifaq
Mohammed Al-Kwikbi – Al-Orobah
Abdullah Al-Khaibari – Al-Shabab
Hattan Bahebri – Al-Ittihad

Fahad Al-Muwallad – Al-Ittihad
Mohammad Al-Sahlawi – Al-Qadisiya
Muhannad Assiri – Al-Wehda


5 academy graduates and 11 current players from Saudi champions Al-Hilal are in Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi’s preliminary Saudi Arabia World Cup squad. Based in the capital Riyadh, Al-Hilal have won more domestic league titles than any other club in Saudi Arabia (15).

Their rivals Ah-Ahli, from Jeddah have 8 current players and 4 academy products in the squad too – in fact, all but 8 players in Pizzi’s 28-man preliminary squad have been involved with Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli at some point in their careers.

6 of Pizzi’s squad share the first name Mohamed, with 15 players at this Summer’s World Cup in total answering to that name. Though that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – statistically Mohamed (and it’s variations) is the world’s most popular first name.

The Numbers:

Al-Hilal – 5
Al-Ahli – 4
Al-Qadisiya, Al-Shabab & Al-Wehda- 3

URUGUAY (26-man preliminary squad)

(Name of player – Name of club that produced them)

Fernando Muslera – Montevideo Wanderers
Martín Silva – Defensor Sporting
Martín Campaña – Deportivo Maldonado

Maxi Pereira – Defensor Sporting
Diego Godín – Defensor Sporting
Martín Cáceres – Defensor Sporting
José Giménez – Toledo Junior
Sebastián Coates – Nacional
Gastón Silva – Defensor Sporting
Guillermo Varela – Penarol/Man Utd

Cristian Rodríguez – Penarol
Nicolás Lodeiro – Nacional
Gastón Ramírez – Penarol
Carlos Andrés Sánchez – Liverpool (Montevideo)
Matías Vecino – Central Espanol
Giorgian De Arrascaeta – Defensor Sporting
Nahitan Nández – Penarol
Rodrigo Bentancur – Boca Juniors
Diego Laxalt – Defensor Sporting
Federico Valverde – Penarol
Jonathan Urretaviscaya – River Plate (Uruguay)
Lucas Torreira – 18 de Julio

Edinson Cavani – Danubio
Luis Suárez – Nacional
Cristhian Stuani – Danubio
Maxi Gómez – Defensor Sporting


Remarkably, 8 of Uruguay’s star-studded squad were educated from an early age at Defensor Sporting in Montevideo. Despite their ability to consistently produce players of talent, Defensor have won the Uruguayan Primera Division just 4 times in their history.

Defensor’s philosophy is unique in that they focus on a young players education and character as much as the technical aspects of their game. Each year the club hosts a Dia del Nino event, where thousands of children and parents come to take part in games and activities. By actively engaging with the community in this way, Defensor win new supporters and identify new talent at the same time.

Giorgian De Arrascaeta is the most recent star to come off the El Violeta conveyer belt. The attacking midfielder moved to Cruzeiro in Brazil in 2015 as 20-year old in 2015 and has since attracted the attention of a host of major European clubs. Famed for his mesmerising close control, the Neuvo Berlin born schemer was nicknamed “Arrascaneta”, for his ability to nutmeg (also known as “caneta” in Brazil) opposing players.

The Numbers:

Defensor Sporting – 8
Penarol – 5
Nacional – 3

Read more: World Cup 2018: Will Uruguay’s blend of youth and experience bring success?

Read part 2 of our Academy Analysis series here.

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