Best British football exports

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How many British players can you name that currently play outside of the Premier League? Exactly. Maybe this is testament to the standard of the game back home, why play abroad when players are perfectly catered for at British clubs? Of course money is a big factor in this nowadays, I remember the days of Channel 4 Italian football when Serie A was the best league around. Foreign owners and investment has meant the English game has become the most sought after league to play in, and the most watched, possibly to the detriment of our national team.

I must admit, the proposition of playing abroad has always appealed to me. I remember buying the kits of different club sides and imagining plying my trade against the giants of Europe. It takes you out of your comfort zone and is a true test of your footballing ability and character. When I look back on my career I will be able to look myself in the eye and know I had a go at continental football, hopefully making a real success of it. So this got me thinking, who are the guys who have truly made a success of themselves abroad, I guess I can certainly learn from them as I embark on my latest challenge….

As one of the few British players currently playing outside of the Premier and Football League, I was curious to discover where it all began and who was the first Brit to succeed overseas. The player was Herbert Kilpin, the first British footballer to play abroad professionally – in 1891, seven years before the introduction of Serie A, Kilpin began his spell in Italy with FC Torinense. That’s not the only achievement of Kilpin’s career, he was also responsible for founding a certain AC Milan, fair play to him on that one!

60 years after Kilpin’s success in Italy, the gentle John Charles, an ex-Leeds United player, caught the eye of Juventus following a barren spell where they were about to finish ninth in the table for the second season running. The club president decided he had to save his club, purchasing Charles for £65,000 after impressing since turning professional at 17. Charles helped Juve to the Scudetto in his first season, and although he was voted Juventus’ best ever-foreign player, beating the likes of Zidane and Platini – he casually admitted “I went to Italy for the money”, a true legend, just a little before my time.

There were many others, but I have decided to focus on the players that crossed the channel during my generation, players I admire and pros that made a real impact overseas. I am interested to know yours, here is my take on our top exports, please comment anybody you think I have missed and I’ll work on compiling a poll next week, to find who you think was the ultimate export of British football.

Gary Lineker

Following his Golden Boot acquisition at the 1986 World Cup, Terry Venables brought Lineker to the Camp Nou for £2.8 million and he made his mark on the club – grabbing a hat-trick in a 3-2 win against arch rivals Real Madrid. Lineker scored 21 goals in his first season, collecting the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners’ Cup along the way all from right wing. I was a big blue as a kid, and remember my dad being gutted that Lineker left after the season he had at Everton but you cannot blame him for plying his trade in Catalunia.

The cleanest man to ever have graced the football pitch, successfully completed 16 years of his career without collecting a yellow or red card – wow how things have changed since I started playing!?

Glenn Hoddle

There was an influx of English players around the late 80’s and early 90’s that influenced the game overseas, Hoddle scored 27 in 69 games during his time at Monaco, winning the title and player of the season award in his first season. Although Hoddle’s flair was well received in France, it was often untrusted for England. I would have happily done Glenn’s donkey work to let him get on the ball and provide those ingenious moments on the pitch when you have to sit back and applaud.

Not many players can say they’ve succeeded in France, both Hoddle and Waddle were exceptions to the rule – I too, hope to be an exception.

Chris Waddle

I guess Waddle is the man I look to for inspiration. Having won three championships with my current club Marseille (how I’d love for just one!) he’s become a full-on legend down here and yet like Hoddle, he struggled to make a stance on his international career. But that didn’t stop ‘Magic Chris’ being voted the fans’ second best player in the clubs history. I hope to emulate just a fraction of his success and I draw the line at success, he can keep the mullet!

David Platt

Man City’s first team coach caught the eye of Bari whilst on duty for England during the Italy 1990 World Cup. Signing for £5.5 million and playing 29 games, Platt netted 11 times which was seen as a success in Serie A, particularly from midfield. Platt then jumped from Sampdoria and Juventus before heading back home to join Arsenal. I always admired Platt, he gave me my chance with England U21s and was truly a top midfielder in his time.

It’s rare for a British player to jump to various European clubs, normally they’ll get a taster at one then race home – I respect Platt’s determination to succeed in Italy.

Steve McManaman

I played with Macca at Man City and he remains a good friend of mine. He was an integral part of the 90′s Liverpool side alongside Bob Fowler, a proper winger who gave defenders nightmares. Macca was one of the first names to take advantage of the Bosman ruling, when he left for free in 1999, eventually playing alongside the likes of Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo and earning their admiration in the process. He went on to win two Champions League as well as two league titles and who can forget that volley he scored against Valencia in the 2000 final.

McManaman is a prime example of just how short a British players career is abroad – I’d be thrilled if I achieved just a slice of his success.

David Beckham

Arguably the most famous English export of recent years. Beckham left for Madrid back in 2003 for £25m from his beloved Manchester United and although he only claimed two pieces of silverware with Real, he was a consistent performer at the Bernabeu. He used that trademark right peg to great effect and was part of the famous Real Madrid galacticos.

Either way Beckham’s been a great servant to the English game and a top pro.

Michael Owen

It seems as though the British players of recent years, are only lured away from the Premier League when the Spanish giants come calling. Like Macca and Beckham, my old pal Owen’s time at the Bernabeu was in fact a success. Although he made a slow start to his campaign, he remained professional throughout, ending his only season with the highest ratio of goals to minutes played. Owen was eventually snubbed in favour Robinho and Baptista, yet he managed a respectable 18 goals from 41 games – only 15 of those were starts.

Kevin Keegan

I played for Kevin both at Man City and at Newcastle, and he stood by me during a real testing time in my career. He was also a top player, after playing in one of the strongest Liverpool sides of all time he headed off to Hamburg. He scored 32 goals in 90 games for the Germans, winning consecutive European footballer of the year trophies in the process and for that I do not think you can look much past him as our most successful export.

Keegan’s brand of management style of attacking, attractive football was no doubt derived from his direct, attacking style as a player.

One thing I’ve learned from this blog is the lack of British players currently playing abroad is startling – do they lack the technical ability required for European football? Do we prefer the British lifestyle? I’m hopeful I’ll uncover a lot of these unanswered questions during my time with Marseille, but for the mean time which players would you have listed?

 

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104 comments
wipeout3
wipeout3

Joey, you forgot 

 

Paul Ince - Inter

 

he  played  (very well) in Italy when   he  was captain of England . 

datatron
datatron

you have missed out on many great players who plied their trade abroad:

 

brady - juve , samp , inter . ascoli

hataley - ac milan

wilkins - ac milan , psg

jordan - ac milan

gazza - lazio

stapleton - le harve , ajax

RobHamilton
RobHamilton

In your case Joey, one to many m8, a loss to our game

sibbo
sibbo

Wilkins & Souness did well in Italy & Liam Brady also. When we had a plentifull supply of creative midfielders in the UK & Ireland. Where are they now???

 

sibbo
sibbo

Paul Lambert at Dortmund. Won the champions league with them & did well for them in the German league.

 

PystolPete
PystolPete

On the domestic scene your old club QPR is looking to sign Lenny Henry in the transfer window, its their only chance of staying in the Premier!:)

lotty28
lotty28

Jermaine Pennant?! ha  :s

AmerAlmawed
AmerAlmawed

BRILLIANT ! Agree with them all

More blogs please

ShaunOD
ShaunOD

An obscure choice would be Charlie Mitten who played for united but did a runner on a pre season tour!

 

This is taken from Wiki;

 

In 1950 United went on a twelve-game tour of America, where they played in front of massive, sell-out crowds. It was at this point that Mitten questioned the small amount of money footballers received - the maximum wage in Britain was £12 a week - compared to their evident global popularity. This point was underlined when two other British footballers, Neil Franklin and George Mountford, signed for clubs in Colombia, a country which was outside of FIFA control. During the tour, Mitten he was approached by a wealthy Colombian businessmen to play for Independiente Santa Fe in Bogotá. Mitten's signing-on fee was reputedly £5,000 plus a weekly wage of at least £40. For this, he was given the nickname "The Bogotá Bandit", which later became the title of his autobiography.[3]

He played in Colombia for a year and United's form suffered in his absence. However, after Santa Fe's funds dried up and complaints of being unable to settle, Mitten decided to return to England. He was, however, offered a contact by Santiago Bernabéu, the manager of Real Madrid who was in the process of forming the all-conquering team that would feature Alfredo Di Stéfano, Francisco Gento and Héctor Rial. He turned down this offer, and later stated his regret at not being able to be a part of the successful Real side.

tonemalone87
tonemalone87

gona put it out there, jay boothroyd, i might b mistaken but im sure i read sumwhere hes the most sucessful english export to italy

_Craigh_
_Craigh_

Hey, great article Joey! 

Owen Hargreaves? Since he came to England he has been Injury prone, and barely played any minutes, but for Bayern he was a fantastic player. Now I understand he didn't start his career in England, but surely he should be considered, as he is actually an 'England' player, or was at least when he was fit. I do believe he was voted England national side's player of the year at one point too. Anyway, would love to know what people think about him.

 

 @_craigh_ 

JI25_
JI25_

Hi Joey, a very interesting topic here, I hope to see you become a great British export in your time at Marseille, best of luck!

RomainGauthier
RomainGauthier

it s clearly a matter of lifestlye. when french players are looking at any opportunities to move in a foreign club, for british players it is just obvious to stay in england. Look at the current level of the championship! a bunch of players from championship would be decent players in the french Ligue1. If they would consider a move only in terms of sportive challenge they could eye for a move oversea. We just dont appeal to them.

 

After the financial aspect is for sure important. Some british players playing currently for mid tab clubs in the premier could be in the starting XI for top french clubs.

 

Look.. the transfer fees of.Fletcher (ok he's scottish) or Adam Johnson signing for Sunderland...  Or Caroll in West ham... 

 

As a marseille fan, I tell you that i'd be happy to see some british players from mid tab clubs in england signing for Marseille

Nathan Dyer, Snodgrass, Nolan, Long, Lambert, Clyne... (Nathan Dyer would break in the English team this guy looks fucking awesome! and I tip a top 7 ranking position for Swansea this year)

 

Both we cannot compete for these players and I do think they prefer to play for clubs like West Ham or Sunderland than Marseille.

 

Btw I started to support Marseille when Tony Cascarino was our top striker. He is still a Marseille Legend even though he scored most of his goals in second french division :) AHAH Big Tony commented your move in Marseille btw. Dont know if you heard about it.

BrunoCompassi
BrunoCompassi

Dear joey i really enjoy this little reminder of how well English players did abroad but i can t agree in Lineker being a big success at barca , he did ok but no more than that, Barca don t rate him that much from his time there, having say that overall yes he was a brilliant striker , Now when you told of mac manaman you are spot on he was brilliant and i loved watching him but he never got the recognition from England he deserved , NOW THE LAST KING OF MARSEILLES: CHRIS MAGIC CHRIS WADDLE, by now you must know everything about how much we loved him at L OM, there are no words to describe how popular he was with us fans, little exemple not many people know: magic chris use to drop bye in our south winners office just like that , and he did that many times with his mate basil boli , he became our ( its common in France) patron , so did the yankees from virage nord , if you can win those sets of fans over than you have won the whole stadium but from what we seen so far , you have won the south winners bye your humble and warm attitude, it was great to read ayee saying you are a very nice man, now lets go for broke in the europa league and i believe you will be involve , score a goal at the velodrome and ......enjoy the reaction of our explosive fans, if you do.............run straigh towards us , and joey that will be an experience you will never forget! And a page in the history book for you, the way you have been so humble ...everybody in Marseilles is talking about you. 

JadTayoun
JadTayoun

Hey Joe, congrats on your move to OM! im a huge Marseille fan, and the team needs quality players like you who put guts above all else! The fans will love you, guys like Cana and Gaby Heinze are legends down here because they gave everything for the team... Best of luck, bring back some character on the Velodrome pitch!

Thurks25
Thurks25

Hi Joey... Quick note were is Gazza.. Without him, there would have been no Channel 4 Italian football. Couldnt beat a Sunday roast followed by a Roma derby. All the best across the water. As Del boy says Bonjour!!!!!

DaleW2811
DaleW2811

@Joey7Barton You forgot Laurie Cunningham - Won La Liga with Real Madrid. First English player to transfer to Real.

ChrisMarklew
ChrisMarklew

How about Des Walker.... who I heard was the most selected Englishman by one Sven Goran Eriksson across all his sides.

C_Keshav
C_Keshav

you forgot to mention Jonathan Woodgate and Joe Cole. As well as Owen Hargreaves who started his career in Germany.

af_murphy
af_murphy

Jb the main guys were super ray wilkins and clever trevor francis in italy. I dont see anyone mentioning tony woodcock who did well in germany and michael robinson who prospered in spain. Of course danny dichio played in italy as well...Good luck and God bless

af_murphy
af_murphy

Jb the main guys were super ray wilkins and clever trevor francis in italy. I dont see anyone mentioning tony woodcock who did well in germany and michael robinson who prospered in spain. Of course danny dichio played in italy as well.... Good luck and God bless

ticsmon
ticsmon

i saw paul ince play for inter, a couple of times, a class above the rest , paul lambert is a   dortmund legend plus owen hargreaves for bayern, i thought he was class

good luck at om joey lad, hope it works out for you. when you start playing i may even fly out and catch a game.

 

sadsack01
sadsack01

I see you're banned in France too. Still 3 down 9 to go. What a shame...a real...crying...shame

George Sessions
George Sessions

Decent Blog Joey, I think you'll be a success in France. Your definitely a talented player and I hope to see you doing well in the Europa League before your league suspension ends in November.

Ozvaldinho
Ozvaldinho

Paul Lambert won the Chanpions League whilst at Borussia Dortmund. Of the players on this list, only Steve McManaman can match that.

Benny Bwoy
Benny Bwoy

My vote has to go to the under-rated genius that was Lawrie Cunningham. First British player to go to Real Madrid, also spent a season at Marseille and my English team, Wimbledon. Only ever recognised as the great player he was by West Brom fans though.

Davey_A
Davey_A

Good luck a la France Joey. Your delivery and strength were great at Newcastle. I wonder......... was the 4 - 4 draw with Arsenal you're most influential game ? The penalties will live long in the memory. 

joshua_w
joshua_w

joseph, great move to france - bold move, hope you suceed. quick question, obviously some in the uk may not think of you fondly and may have perceptions about you.. however, i would imagine the generic french fan may know little about you. whats your mindset in france? you going for a gary linekar type rep?  i guess you wont be dealing with the uk press who are quick to jump of the ol' bandwagon?!

jamie northard
jamie northard

les ferdinand had a loan spell with besiktas 1988-89 season and scored 14 goals in 24 apearences

 

owonefi7
owonefi7

john toshack for manager

Devilstorment
Devilstorment

What about John Charles at Juve. He was voted their best EVER foreign player! And remember Zidane played for them!

Karl_Khalil
Karl_Khalil

Well I am chelsea fan, I used to hate your gutts. But the move you made shows the world that it is about the love of the game, not about money. L' O.M is a club that I really like, for the passion that this team offers for the game. This move is a clear sign that you love the game more than anything else, I respect you adn admire you for that. You will be treated like a king for that love by passionate fans, you deserve that. Would love to see you kicking some ass against PSG, a team that is about money more than the love of the game (ironically coming form a chelsea fan).

Priceybay
Priceybay

People laugh when I say Macca was the best in the world at one time. But he shone brightly for a couple of years. I think Marseille will be the making of Barton. And the fans will love the passion, because that's all they ask

HCSFL
HCSFL

Don't forget Mark Hughes - didn't do too well at Barca but had a decent time at Bayern Munich.

Mudster
Mudster

A relatively unknown to those outside of Crook Town and Barcelona, but Jack Greenwell was a legend at both clubs. There'd be no Barca as it is today with out him... Apparently. Good luck and show them that English players can actually play

barmyarmy
barmyarmy

Luther Blisset also had a spell in Serie A too didn't he?  can't remember which club he played for though.

Loicbapt
Loicbapt

Well I see, Scotland is deemed as abroad, I d say Chris Sutton for Celtic, decent stats  63 goals in 130 appearances, only one cap like you Joey. Btw do you regret not having been selected more often in the english squad? 

Bobbins
Bobbins

Trevor Steven did well in Marseille and I'm sure John Aldridge scored plenty at Real Sociedad when he left Liverpool.

Josh_S_Smith
Josh_S_Smith

 @C_Keshav Jonathan Woodgate?? Have you seen the title of this blog post. The guy was sent of on his debut and spent the rest of the time injured

BrunoCompassi
BrunoCompassi

 @Karl_Khalil a chelsea fan ( as i am ) who is also a Marseilles fan ( my home town) god there cannot be many of us around, the sad thing is few chelsea fans lean towards psg( only the right wing bunch i mean) but i hate them, so this mail made my day KARL, i go to chelsea as much as possible but home is OM

BrunoCompassi
BrunoCompassi

 @Priceybay i agree about Macca i was gutted to see the national team ignoring him and taking players not fit to lace his boots, Macca was a god at Real , much more than beckam , more than most, The way his country treated him was a disgrace , ask any real fan and they know what they talking about. 

BrunoCompassi
BrunoCompassi

 @Priceybay i agree there is this feeling in the air in Marseilles that it was destiny , this club is made for him , us fans are a lot like joey barton , he will shine

HCSFL
HCSFL

 @Priceybay I'm not laughing - Macca was the catalyst that made that Real team so great.

frynls
frynls

 @Bobbins Well, here in Marseille, Stevens is certainly considered as a very good player but nobody really remember him. Unofrtunately for him he played for om during season 91-92 which was one of the worst of our "golden age". (eliminated in 1/8 finals by Sparta Prague (!!!),  trapped between a champions cup final lost on penalties ain 91 and a victory in 93). 

 

Still, he was a great hardworking player and he was part of a great team (Papin, Waddle, Deschamps, Amgloma...etc). But at this time, it was not enough to stay at om, the president wanted to win the Champions Cup.

Karl_Khalil
Karl_Khalil

The chelsea fans who saw the standing ovation for didier drogba when playing at l' OM vs Newcastle at the Velodrome know what I am talking about. I think this part alone shows that l' OM and chelsea have something special in common

BrunoCompassi
BrunoCompassi

 @barmyarmy  @HCSFL i would love to say yes but not at barca he was not used well in his favorite position so he did not stay but he took his revenge on them with man utd in cup winners cup final

HCSFL
HCSFL

 @barmyarmy Quality player, let's leave it up to Joseph to say if they see eye to eye...

Bobbins
Bobbins

 @frynls The Marseille team of the early '90s was brilliant. Even as a teenager I remember it being a travesty that they lost on pens to Red Star in '91. I also remember Dragan Stojkovic , Basile Boli & Abedi Pele from that era.

BrunoCompassi
BrunoCompassi

 @Bobbins  @frynls oh that final against red star belgrade in bari was the most unfair and sad result i never witnessed, we were dead on our legs at the final penalty, but than 93 gave us magical feelings and i regret that chris waddle was not in the team that year, he came to celebrate in marseilles with the fans, now how many players did so after they were let go 12 months before?, Chris Waddle was incredible and he had this relation with the fans....i hope joey get to taste some of that

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