The sights, smells and sounds of la dolce vita in another country can be tempting for some players. On the one hand it may be an upheaval for some to leave their home town or neighbourhood for some it can open up several doors. It gives players the chance to take advantage of a brand new culture and surround themselves with an altogether different experience. For some who move to another club it can also be tricky in a number of ways. This includes becoming accustomed to traditions as well as a possible language barrier which some may have to overcome.
For some players, it can take weeks to adjust, while for others it can be a much longer period of time to settle in. When it comes to English players overseas, there have been very few and far between in the last three or four decades.
Some of the initial flurry of English players who sought a little sun, sea and sand took place during the 1960s. This featured ex-Tottenham Hotspur legend Jimmy Greaves who moved to Italian giants AC Milan for around $110,000. Trevor Francis was another player who had a yearning to play abroad and ended up in Sampdoria back in 1982. The former Nottingham Forest striker is most famous for his winning header in the 1979 European Cup Final against Malmo.
Fast forward to modern footballing times and once again, English players are thin on the ground as far as moving overseas is concerned. There is Ashley Cole who made the move from Chelsea in 2014 to AS Roma not to mention Anton Ferdinand. The brother of Rio Ferdinand moved to Turkish side Antalyaspor in August 2013 but was released at the end of the season.
Making it abroad is certainly a tough nut to crack. But which English players actually managed to make a name overseas?
10 Gerry Hitchens
9 Kevin Keegan
8 Steve McManaman
A rising star in the Premier League at the time, Steve McManaman came through the ranks at Liverpool. His tricky wing play was a real joy to behold and was soon to attract a number of different clubs abroad. This included Real Madrid and as a result, McManaman signed on the dotted line for Los Blancos back in 1999. Madrid was to be an excellent destination for the player as he spent four wonderful seasons there. He made more than 150 appearances in the white shirt and gained plenty of success along the way. McManaman not only achieved two La Liga titles but he went on to win the UEFA Champions League twice.
7 Glenn Hoddle
6 Gary Lineker
Now a TV pundit for the BBC, Gary Lineker rose to stardom while playing for England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Lineker bagged six goals during England’s World Cup campaign and was awarded with the honour of the Golden Boot Award. This was to be one of England’s most controversial tournaments and the Three Lions were knocked out by Diego Maradona's Argentina and the infamous “Hand of God” incident.
5 David Platt
4 Laurie Cunningham
3 John Charles
Back in the 1950’s when Elvis was making waves across the world, John Charles was causing a stir all of his own. In the summer of 1957, Charles signed for Juventus in what was at the time considered to be a British record transfer fee. In fact Charles was ground breaking in his own right as he was one of the very first Brits to play overseas. He received lots of adulation as Charles spent five glorious years playing in Serie A.
2 Paul Gascoigne
Without question, Paul Gascoigne was one of England’s brightest stars on the football pitch. Gazza as he is most fondly known offered bags of raw talent which he unleashed on the hallowed turf. His natural gift was mesmerizing which drew crowds by the thousands. Initially, Gazza spent time playing for his home town club of Newcastle United. He then joined Tottenham Hotspur and it was from White Hart Lane where he made the big move.
1 David Beckham
There is only one David Beckham and his effect on the game in the MLS continues even after his retirement. He certainly enjoyed an illustrious career playing for some of the most recognisable teams on the planet. From Manchester United to Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain and AC Milan, Beckham achieved iconic status both on and off the field. He has played with a host of prestigious talent across his career from Paul Scholes and Roy Keane to Luis Figo, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane to name but a few.
Meanwhile, his multi-million dollar sponsorship endorsements coupled with marrying “Posh Spice” Victoria Beckham ensured the boy from Leytonstone has done more than just good. Beckham also enjoyed a successful period with the L.A. Galaxy bringing home the MLS Cup. He is recognized in all four corners of the world and his global appeal makes him questionably the most famous English player of all time.
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