Top Ten Brits Abroad
From Charles to Beckham with a bit of Souness in between, Matt Stanger takes a look at the top ten British footballers who enjoyed successful stints overseas
By Matt Stanger
Last Updated: 27/06/13 2:36pm
After an illustrious seven-year spell at Liverpool in which he won five First Division titles and three European Cups, Souness left British shores in 1984 to team up with Trevor Francis at Sampdoria. The fearsome Scot made an immediate impact in Italy, scoring the winner on his Serie A debut against Cremonese and endearing himself to supporters with three goals in his first seven matches. An impressive first season was wrapped up with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over AC Milan in the first leg of the Coppa Italia final as Sampdoria went on to win the competition for the first time. Souness stayed for one more season and narrowly missed out on another Coppa Italia trophy after losing to Roma, before taking over as player-manager at Rangers.
Bari splashed out £5.5m to sign Platt from Aston Villa in 1991 and he notched an impressive total of 11 goals in his first season in Italy. However, after Bari's relegation to Serie B the England midfielder was on the move again, this time to Juventus for £6.5m. Despite picking up a UEFA Cup winner's medal during his only season in Turin, Platt was excluded from the matchday squad in both legs of the final and made only 16 appearances for Giovanni Trapattoni's side in the league. A third move resulted, and it was at Sampdoria alongside Roberto Mancini, Ruud Gullit and Attilio Lombardo that Platt really excelled. The England midfielder scored 17 goals in 55 Serie A matches during his two-year stay and followed in Graeme Souness' footsteps by winning the Coppa Italia with a crushing 6-1 aggregate victory over Ancona. He returned to Sampdoria as a manager for a brief spell in 1998, bringing Lee Sharpe with him, but resigned shortly before the club dropped into Serie B.
Although Hoddle struggled with injuries towards the end of his spell in Monaco, he proved a huge hit during his first two seasons after joining the principality club from Spurs. In his debut campaign, Hoddle helped Monaco win their first Ligue 1 title in six years as fellow England international Mark Hateley bagged 14 goals to fire Arsene Wenger's side above Bordeaux. On a personal level Hoddle enjoyed even more success in his second season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions, but Monaco failed to retain their title and lost the Coupe de France final 4-3 to Marseille, with Jean-Pierre Papin bagging a hat-trick. Injuries then took hold and although Monaco won the 1991 Coupe de France, this time against Waddle's Marseille, Hoddle played no part before being released from his contract and returning to England to become player-manager at Swindon.
Despite winning the Supercopa de España in only his second match for Real Madrid, Beckham endured a difficult spell at the Santiago Bernabeu and was frozen out of the first team after signing a pre-contract agreement with LA Galaxy in January 2007. Real president Ramón Calderon said at the time that Beckham was "going to Hollywood to be half a film star" but there was a final twist in the plot at Real Madrid as the England midfielder forced his way back into Fabio Capello's plans and won his only La Liga title in the final game of the season. A five-year stay and two MLS Cups at LA Galaxy followed, while Beckham also enjoyed two successful loan spells at AC Milan before calling time on his career by helping PSG to their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years.
El Tel signed both Lineker and Mark Hughes in the summer of 1986 as he looked to form a new British forward line at Barcelona. Although Hughes wilted in the Spanish heat and was packed off to Bayern Munich on loan after a single season, Lineker thrived in his new surroundings on the back of winning the Golden Shoe at the 1986 World Cup. He scored 21 goals in his first season, including a hat-trick in El Clasico as Barca beat Real Madrid 3-2. Barcelona ended Lineker's debut campaign empty-handed, but the striker continued to impress as he adapted to La Liga and the Spanish lifestyle and he played a part in the team's Copa del Rey success in 1988 and European Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1989.
Lambert said recently that his year at Borussia Dortmund 'changed his whole life' as he became the first Scottish player ever to win Europe's elite competition with a foreign club. The defensive midfielder was plucked from Motherwell in the summer of 1996 and put straight into Dortmund's starting line-up after impressing Ottmar Hizfeld in a UEFA Cup clash the previous season. He played in all but one of Dortmund's matches en route to the 1997 Champions League final and was praised by Roy Keane - a rare feat - for his performance in the second leg of the semi-final against Manchester United. Lambert was tasked with nullifying Zinedine Zidane's threat in the final, held at Bayern's Olympiastadion, and not only did the Scotland international succeed in this aim, he also provided the assist for Karl-Heinz Riedle to open the scoring as Dortmund triumphed 3-1.
A 26-year-old Keegan was at the peak of his career when he moved to Hamburg in 1977, having won the First Division and European Cup with Liverpool in the previous season. After becoming the highest-paid player in Germany and replacing popular forward Horst Blankenburg at Hamburg, Keegan initially found it difficult to settle and there were reports that his new teammates wouldn't pass to him in training. Keegan grew more and more frustrated and eventually blew his top in a mid-season friendly against VfB Lübeck when he punched an opponent to the ground. Although he was banned for violent conduct, the incident helped Keegan win over the rest of the squad and he ended his first campaign with 12 goals and the 1978 Ballon d'Or award. More success followed in 1979 as Keegan helped Hamburg to their first league title in 19 years and was crowned European Footballer of the Year for the second year in a row. After narrowly missing out on another Bundesliga crown the following season and losing to Nottingham Forest in the European Cup final, Keegan called an end to his time in Germany and returned to England with Southampton.
Waddle is still revered in France after spending three hugely successful years at Marseille following his switch from Spurs. The former England winger moved to L'OM in 1989 for £4.5m - the third highest fee ever paid at the time - and the transfer afforded him the opportunity to play in European competition while England clubs were excluded after Heysel. "It took me three months to get used to the language, the heat and the fitness," said Waddle when reflecting on his time in Marseille. "But it all changed the moment I scored against Paris St-Germain. Suddenly, everything kicked into gear and it was like Fantasy Island." It's fair to say that Waddle reached his peak in France and his cocky style was a huge hit with fans as Marseille won three successive Ligue 1 titles. Waddle almost added a European Cup to his collection in 1991, but he narrowly missed out as Marseille were defeated on penalties by Red Star Belgrade.
McManaman recalls that he had a simple decision to make when he was in the last year of his contract at Liverpool in 1999 - it was a choice "between a hell of a lot of money and a hell of a lot of money." Despite Liverpool's best efforts to keep the winger, he decided to broaden his horizons and follow in Laurie Cunningham's footsteps as he embarked on a new challenge with Real Madrid. It proved to be the right move, as McManaman embraced the opportunity, becoming fluent in Spanish and establishing himself as a fans' favourite. He went on to win two La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns in four years, as well as the man of the match award in the 2000 final after scoring a delightful volley in Real's 3-0 win over Valencia.
Charles almost doubled the British record transfer fee when he joined Juventus for £65,000 in 1957 and big things were expected of the striker in Turin following his remarkable goalscoring record at Leeds. Il Gigante Buono (The Gentle Giant) certainly didn't fail to impress and he immediately took to life in Italy, scoring the deciding goal in a 3-2 victory over Hellas Verona on his debut. Charles followed up with two more match-winning strikes in his next two games and ended the season as the Serie A top scorer with 28 goals as Juventus were crowned champions. The Wales international was named Italian Player of the Year for his efforts and added two more Scudetti and two Coppa Italias during his five-year stay. "Winning the first championship was a wonderful thing," said Charles in 2001 when he became the first non-Italian inducted to the Azzurri Hall of Fame. "They hadn't won it for a while. And when we won it - it was unbelievable."
This article first appeared on Football365