Wherever you look, foreign players dominate the English footballing landscape. Some have left an indelible mark; the likes of Zola, Bergkamp, Henry and Cantona have improved the Premiership for the better. But for every foreign star that improves our domestic game, why have so few British players made such a mark abroad? Currently only a few players are plying their trade on the continent, Jermaine Pennant at Zaragoza, Darius Vassell is in Turkey with Ankaragucu, and David Beckham’s attempt to popularise “soccer” in America has had mixed results. Here are five Brits who simply couldn’t cut it on the continent:
(£3 million, Liverpool to Juventus, 1987)
The Liverpool legend transferred to Serie A giants Juve to try and improve the links between the two clubs after the Heysel disaster two years earlier. However, Rush struggled in Serie A, scoring only 8 times in 29 games and failed to settle in Turin, reportedly claiming, “It’s like living in a foreign country.” Rush was shipped back to Liverpool after just one season in Italy.
(£5.5 million, Tottenham to Lazio, 1992)
Gazza’s time in Rome was beset by injuries, stemming from the wild challenge in the FA Cup final a year earlier where he ruptured his cruciate ligaments. Apart from scoring a 89th minute equaliser in the Rome derby, Gazza only made 47 appearances for Lazio in three seasons, scoring 6 goals.
(£8 million, Liverpool to Real Madrid, 2004)
Real president Fiorentino Perez signed Owen in his first galactico era, joining the likes of Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Beckham. Owen was mostly confined to the bench, and only started 15 games in all competitions. He did manage to score 18 goals in 41 games, but left after one season to join Newcastle to get more playing time.
(£13.4 million, Newcastle to Real Madrid, 2004)
An own goal and a sending off. Not an ideal way to make your debut after missing a whole season through injury. Although Woodgate did play well in a few games for Real Madrid, he was often on the treatment table, only making 9 appearances for the club. Spanish sports bible Marca even voted the defender the “worst signing of the 21st century.”
(free transfer to Oviedo, 2001)
Once the most expensive player in Britain, 1,500 fans turned up to see the former Liverpool and Villa striker sign for Oviedo. Collymore only spent five weeks in Spain, playing three games, before announcing his retirement from football, aged 30.
Written By Tom Jinks