Thursday, May 15, 2008

English Soccer Players in Continental Europe

I may be overlooking something obvious, but off the top of my head I can't think of any English players currently in the other major soccer leagues in Europe. I'm guessing it has to do with the exorbitant prices attached to English players and the players themselves not wanting to go to Europe.

Whatever the reason, it seems odd to me that there are pretty much zero English players in other European countries. You'd think that a young player could go to a Lyon or a PSV instead of an Aston Villa or a Blackburn and get some Champions League playing time and experience a different style of play. Could this be a reason why England's national team has struggled in recent years?

This is a list of some of the well-known English players that have made the move to the continent in the past, some with more success than others.

Michael Owen - Real Madrid
Scored 16 goals in 41 games, but Owen was often a bench player at the club. I think he would have done well if he'd been given more of a chance, he had the most goals per minutes played in La Liga in 04-05.

David Beckham - Real Madrid
Beckham had an up and down career with Real. He famously helped lead the club to the La Liga title in 2007 after overcoming a banishment to the bench by Fabio Capello when word arose that he had signed with the LA Galaxy.

Jonathan Woodgate - Real Madrid
This Reuters Article pretty much sums up Woodgate's time in Spain. The 13 million pound signing had a very brief spell as an influential starter between about a million injuries.

Steve McManaman - Real Madrid
Shaggy was one of the more successful recent English exports to Europe. He helped Real Madrid to the Champions League title by scoring a great goal in the Cup Final in 2000. He was eventually phased out of the club by the "Galacticos" policy that brought in players like Zidane and Luis Figo.

Paul Gascoigne - Lazio
Gazza never really settled into Italian soccer as he struggled with injuries while there. He eventually made 47 appearances for the club, scoring 6 goals.

Paul Ince - Inter Milan
Ince was moderately successful while away from England. The former Manchester United player and England Captain ended up making 54 appearances with Inter and knocking in 10 goals.

Les Ferdinand - Beşiktaş
Rio and Anton's cousin had a brief loan spell in Turkey in 88-89. He did pretty well while there, making 24 appearances and scoring 14 goals.

Gary Lineker - FC Barcelona
Lineker did very well in his first season at the Camp Nou, scoring 21 goals in 41 games in 1986. In all he scored 43 goals in his three seasons in Spain before being phased out of the starting lineup in 1989 by his manager, Johann Cruyff.

Chris Waddle - Olympique de Marseille
The former Newcastle and Tottenham player was a fan favorite in his time at Marseille, being voted the second best OM player of the century in 1998. His 90-91 season was one of the best seasons of any English player abroad, and he was a contender for European Footballer of the Year that season.

Kevin Keegan - Hamburg
Keegan led the German club to its first Bundesliga title in 78-79 and was named European Footballer of the Year twice while playing in Germany.

David Platt - AS Bari, Juventus, and Sampdoria
The Early 90's England Captain and Aston Villa player spent time at AS Bari, Juventus and Sampdoria in Italy from 92-95. He was fairly successful while at those clubs, scoring 31 goals in 90 games in Italy.

Ray Wilkins - AC Milan and Paris St. Germain
"Squareball Wilkins", the former Chelsea, Manchester United, and England player, spent some time at AC Milan and Paris St. Germain in the mid 80's. He was at Milan during a fairly unsuccessful period for the club and only lasted four months in Paris.


  1. Laurie Cunningham (Real Madrid 1979-1983) first English player in club's history, first black player to wear an England shirt at any level.

  2. John Charles is welsh not english

  3. Funny, I just did a post on John Charles a few weeks ago. Apparently it didn't register in my mind that he was Welsh two years ago when I made this post. Thanks for the correction, John Charles has been removed.