Top 5 Foreign Players Currently Playing in the NFL

Over the years there have been a number of foreign-born players star in the NFL. Kicker Morten Andersen from Denmark, South Africa’s Gary Anderson, also a kicker, and Osi Umenyiora of the UK are three from a long list. Edward Wade has gone through the list of non-American players active in the NFL today and picked out five he thinks belong on anyone’s top list. See if you agree.

  1. Sebastian Vollmer – New England Patriots

AFI - Sebastian Vollmer

The New England Patriots offensive tackle didn’t start playing American football until he was 14. The German native began playing for the Dusseldorf Panther and helped his team on to win two German Junior Bowls. It wasn’t long before his talent became recognised and America came calling. He went on to attend the University of Houston where he started out as a tight end, before making the switch to left tackle where he found more success. Vollmer hasn’t looked back since. After being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft by the New England Patriots, the big man has gone on to win two AFC championships and Super Bowl XLIX. But it hasn’t always been easy. He suffered a bad leg break in 2013 and missed the majority of the season. At 31 he is now an experienced NFL player, it will be intriguing to see if he can help the Patriots push on for next season.

  1. Sebastian Janikowski – Oakland Raiders

AFI - Sebastian Janikowski – Oakland Raiders

A long standing kicker in the NFL, Janikowski will play in his 17th year at the beginning of the 2016 season.  The talent was there for all to see and Janikowski showed off his skills early. He was selected by the Polish under-17 national squad at just 15 years of age before moving to America to live with his father in Florida. He attended Florida State University where he played for the Florida State Seminoles football team. In 1999 he won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate kicker which was his second in a row. He still remains the only player to do so. The Polish native was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2000 where he became the fourth placekicker in NFL history to be taken in the first round draft. Unfortunately for Janikowski, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. The Raiders haven’t endured much success on the field, with the AFC championship the only title he can claim with the team. He did manage an incredible 63-yard field goal which he previously, jointly held the record for, as well as attempting an astonishing 76-yard field goal.

  1. Star Lotulelei – Carolina Panthers

A native of Tonga, Lotulelei moved over to the United States when he was nine and began playing American football. Playing in Utah he was named as one of the top prospective defensive linemen and his ability was quickly recognized. After attending at the University of Utah Lotulelei was drafted in 2011 by the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers mainly deployed Lotulelei as a right defensive tackle and he has been sensational since his rookie year. They turned into a team with a rock solid defense and Lotulelei proved his importance on the run to Super Bowl 50. He managed to record 22 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery. Despite losing against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, Lotulelei managed five tackles.

  1. Ezekiel Ansah – Detroit Lions

AFI - Ezekiel Ansah – Detroit Lions

Despite the monster on the field he is today, Ezekiel Ansah or ‘Ziggy’ started off playing basketball in his native Ghana before he moved to America at the age of 19. Although it was his main sport, Ansah failed to make the team for Brigham Young University and instead turned to track and field. Although being a giant of a man, standing at 6ft 6in, he excelled at the 100 and 200 meters, where he caught the attention of the Cougars football team. They took a chance on Ghanian and he showed his talents in 2012 claiming 4.5 sacks, 1 interception and 13 tackles. He was drafted in 2013 by the Detroit Lions and quickly made a name for himself against the New York Jets in his first preseason game, intercepting a Mark Sanchez pass and returning the ball 14 yards for the first score of the game. Ansah is a major talent and there is a feeling that there is a lot more to come from the young man.

  1. Tamba Hali – Kansas City

AFI - Tamba Hali – Kansas City

Although currently with Kansas City it is possible that veteran Hali is looking at the end of his career. But the man from Liberia has done fantastically well since moving over to the States at the tender age of 10. Hali began playing American football and basketball in New Jersey. He attended Penn State University where he made a big impact with the Nittany Lions, winning the Orange Bowl and being named defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl. Quickly spotted as a solid defensive lineman, he was drafted by Kansas City in 2006 to help shore up their struggling defense. Although in his twilight years now, he has enjoyed an outstanding career, registering 79.5 career sacks, over his nine loyal years with Kansas.

A journalism sports graduate from Sheffield University, Edward resides in London. He loves American football and the NFL but writes mainly about soccer. His stories can be found in Thinkfootball and Backpage Football.