Top 15 British Players Who Flopped Overseas

A British footballer plying his trade outside of the British Isles is quite a rare sight in football. In contrast to Brazilians who are playing all over the world, it is quite a rare thing for a Brit to step outside of their comfort zone and experience a new footballing culture.

That said, there have been many examples of British players heading to Europe or futher and doing well. Every football fan knows how well David Beckham did during his years overseas in Spain, the USA, Italy and France, but others have also succeeded - Kevin Keegan with Hamburg was perhaps one of the more successful as well as Welshman John Charles during his prolific spell in Italy with Juventus in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Others such as Kenny Pavey in Sweden have played the vast majority of their footballing career abroad and some, especially managers have enjoyed great success abroad like Roy Hodgson and the great late Sir Bobby Robson.

Plenty more British players have also made that step to continue their career overseas with many often ending in failure. We've put together a list of players who tried but ultimately failed...

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15 Micah Richards (Fiorentina) 

After becoming a bit-part player at Manchester City, Micah Richards made the journey to Tuscany in September 2014 after agreeing to join Fiorentina on loan.

His stint in Serie A didn't pan out as expected after manager Vincenzo Montella switched to a 3–5–2 formation meaning Richards' chances were also limited at his new club. The right-back made 19 appearances during his time in Italy before returning to the Premier League in the summer of 2015.

The England international was released on a free by Man City and subsequently signed with Aston Villa, who installed him as captain for the current season.

14 Dean Saunders (Benfica) 

via ojogo.pt

Welsh striker Dean Saunders was reunited with manager Graeme Souness when joining Lisbon giants Benfica in the December of 1998.

The two had worked together at Turkish club Galatasaray with Saunders having a relatively successful season scoring 15 goals in 27 appearances. However, his time in Portugal didn't go as well as the ageing striker struggled to make an impact.

The striker decided to return to the Premier League in 1999 after receiving an offer from newly promoted Bradford City, where he remained until retiring from the game.

13 David Bentley (FC Rostov) 

via hitc.com

David Bentley became the first Englishman to play in Russia when he joined the relatively unknown FC Rostov in September of 2012, after seeing his chances at Spurs diminish.

Bentley had struggled with injuries and form since joining the London club, so a move to Russia was a chance to to broaden his football horizons and re-establish himself as a first-team regular.

Sadly for the midfielder, an injury cut his loan short with Bentley returning to London at the end of December after appearing in just eight games for the Russian club.

12 Des Walker (Sampdoria) 

via puskasinsanremo.com

After an impressive 1990 World Cup with England, Des Walker's rise continued which resulted in a £1.28 million transfer from Nottingham Forest to Sampdoria in 1992.

Despite playing in 30 Serie A games for his new club, Walker had trouble defending against some of the world class players on display in the league and struggled to look at ease in the country.

The result was after just one season in Italy, the England international was sold to Sheffield Wednesday for £2.25 million where he went on to become a club legend. After nine years with the club, he returned to Nottingham Forest where he played out the remainder of his career.

11 Luther Blissett (AC Milan) 

via it.wikipedia.org

English striker Luther Blissett was singed by AC Milan following an excellent goal-scoring run where he scored 27 goals in Watford's first season in English football's top-flight.

AC Milan bought the striker for just under £1 million - a large sum for 1983, but on arriving in the northern Italian city, he found it hard to replicate his form which resulted in his Italian journey being cut short after just one season.

To make his transfer to the Rossoneri even more interesting is that there is a famous rumor that the Italians had actually tried to sign team-mate John Barnes, but got the wrong Hornets player by mistake!

10 Ashley Cole (Roma) 

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After playing at the top of the Premier League for well over a decade with Arsenal and Chelsea respectively, the former England international joined Serie A club Roma in the summer of 2014.

The left-back was expected to go straight into the first-team in his first foray abroad, but the move turned out to be a disastrous one for the player. Despite being available for selection, Cole only managed 16 appearances during his time in the Italian capital and was released from his contract a year early.

Cole, who played for England 107 times has since signed for Los Angeles Galaxy ahead of the new MLS season that will commence at the start of next month.

9 Charlie Mitten (Santa Fe) 

via fulham.wikia.com

Englishman Charlie Mitten was one of the 'Famous Five' - a group of star players of Sir Matt Busby's first great Manchester United team in the late 1940s. Although he joined the club in 1936, he had to wait a full ten years before making his first United appearance due to the outbreak of WWII.

After starring for United for four years, the player sensationally joined Colombian side Santa Fe after being offered a lucrative wage while on United's 1950 tour of the USA. At the time there was a wage cap in England that meant a move to Colombia, which wasn't a part of FIFA, would enable him to increase his earnings significantly. This mercenary move earned him the nickname of 'The Bogota Bandit'.

After just one season in Colombia, Mitten was forced to return to England after the country came under FIFA jurisdiction (Manchester United still held his registration). On arriving in England, the player was fined and banned by the FA before going on to represent Fulham and Mansfield Town.

8 Mark Hughes (Barcelona/Bayern Munich) 

via skysports.com

The Welsh forward moved to Catalan giants Barcelona for £2.25 million in 1986 at the same time as England legend Gary Lineker. Hughes was often played out of position at the club, so he failed to make an impact. In 35 games with the club, he registered just five goals.

Hughes was then loaned to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga where he again struggled to find form - seven goals in 23 appearances before returning to Manchester United for a trophy-laden second spell.

After returning to Manchester, Hughes picked up two Premier League trophies, two FA Cups, a League Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup when Hughes scored both goals to beat his former club Barcelona 2-1 in Rotterdam.

7 Michael Owen (Real Madrid) 

via theguardian.com

Michael Owen joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in the same summer as fellow Englishman Jonathan Woodgate, but his time in Spain lasted just a single season.

Owen was signed from Liverpool for a fee of £9 million after many successful years with the club, but spent most of his time on the bench on arriving in the Spanish capital.

Though the striker impressed with goals from the bench, including one in a famous win over Barcelona, his dream move quickly came to an end and was sold to Newcastle United in 2005 for £18.75 million after scoring 17 goals in 45 appearances.

6 Paul Gascoigne (Lazio/Gansu Tianma) 

via goal.com

Paul Gascoigne transferred to Lazio from Tottenham Hotspur in 1992 for a £5.55 million fee. The supremely talented midfielder was a fan favorite but failed to really settle in Italy during his three years in Roma. Gasgoigne saw his playing time diminish as a result of inconsistency and a bad injury before being sold to Glasgow Rangers in 1995.

Later in his career, Gazza tried his hand as a player-coach in China with Gansu Tianma. After scoring on his debut and making a handful of appearances for the club, the troubled midfielder risked breaking his contract after checking into an alcohol rehabilitation centre in the US.

5 Denis Law (Torino) 

via scottishfootballhalloffame.co.uk

Before Denis Law became a Manchester United legend as part of a 'holy trinity' that was made up of Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton, the Scot had a short spell in Italy with Torino.

The Turin club paid around £100,000 to sign the striker from Manchester City and arrived in Italy with fellow Scot Joe Baker who has signed from Hibernian in Scotland. The move didn't turn out as expected after suffering from homesickness.

In the February of 1962, Law was involved in a car crash when team-mate Baker crashed after driving the wrong way around a roundabout. Law's injuries were minor while Baker sustained life-threatening injuries. It was the start of the end of his Italian career.

After a sending off and a huge disagreement with his manager as a result, Matt Busby's Manchester United signed the player and the rest is history.

4 Jimmy Greaves (AC Milan) 

via talksport.com

Jimmy Greaves was a prolific goalscorer for Chelsea in the late 1950s before moving to AC Milan on a lucrative contract. The Italian club signed the Englishman after plundering 124 goals in 157 league games for the London club.

The fact that the player tried to cancel his contract before signing didn't bode well for his future in Italy and, sadly for Greaves, he failed to adapt to his new club and the rough treatment from the opposition, as well as Italian life in general.

Greaves managed nine goals in 14 games for Milan but was sold to Tottenham Hotspur after only six months after singing for the club. The final nail in his Milan coffin came when the striker retaliated and kicked a Sampdoria player who had spat in his face. Sampdoria scored from the resulting free kick and Nereo Rocco, the Milan coach, held him personally responsible.

Greaves' return was a happy one and in familiar surroundings, he went on to establish himself of one of England's greatest ever strikers scoring 357 league goals and 44 in 57 international appearances for England.

3 Ian Rush (Juventus) 

via theanfieldwrap.com

Liverpool legend Ian Rush was signed by Juventus in the summer of 1986, but his big move failed to live up to expectations.

Unfortunately for the Welshman, he failed to settle in Italy with the usually prolific striker managing just seven goals in his 29 appearances for the Turin club. Rush was to spend just a sole season in Serie A with a return to Liverpool the following season.

The Welshman's time in Italian football has been immortalized with just a single quote from the player on life in Italy, saying 'I couldn't settle in Italy, it was like living in a foreign country.' Incredible.

2 Stan Collymore (Real Oviedo) 

via fm-base.co.uk

Former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool favourite, Stan Collymore, decided to make the trip from Yorkshire to Asturias in Spain when he switched Bradford City for Real Oviedo in 2001.

After a successful career in England's top-flight, it was a strange move for the striker who lasted just a month in Spain after making his debut against Las Palmas in February 2001.

After just three games with the club and five weeks after moving to northern Spain, Collymore announced his shock retirement from football at the age of 30.

1 Jonathan Woodgate (Real Madrid)  

via thefallengiants.wordpress.com

Jonathan Woodgate joined Real Madrid in a big £13.73 million move in the summer of 2004. He had been highlighted as one of Europe's most promising defenders during his spells with Leeds United and Newcastle United although his transfer to Spain was somewhat of a shock due to his ongoing injury problems.

In fact, Woodgate arrived in Madrid injured, which meant his debut didn't come for over a year. When it finally happened, it was one to forget after scoring an own goal and then getting sent off in a game against Athletic Bilbao.

After making a total of just 14 appearances for Los Blancos, Woodgate was sent packing back to England with Middlesbrough firstly on loan and then permanently for £7.2 million in 2007.

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