BRITS ABROAD

Si­mon Shel­don says the money in our game is stop­ping play­ers spread­ing their wings…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS - @statto1968

When our play­ers trav­elled

WITH the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow ap­proach­ing the end and mil­lions be­ing spent on play­ers, it looks like there won’t be any of our top play­ers mov­ing abroad to play for any of the big­gest clubs in Europe.

Now, of course, the ar­gu­ment will be that we have the big­gest league, with the most money thanks to the huge TV deals and so there is no rea­son to move.

I agree that we have the most ex­cit­ing league and the clubs pay amaz­ing wages to the play­ers.

But play­ing overseas, test­ing your abil­ity and learn­ing to live in an­other coun­try and deal with the lan­guage and di­verse cul­tures should be more ap­peal­ing.

Also, it says a lot that the big clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ju­ven­tus and Bay­ern Mu­nich are not chas­ing Bri­tish tal­ent.

In the past, money would have played a part but it wouldn’t have been the only rea­son to at­tract play­ers to go abroad.

Most of the fol­low­ing play­ers men­tioned would be the first to say how they came back to this coun­try as bet­ter peo­ple for the ex­pe­ri­ence, even for those who had a dis­ap­point­ing time.

The very first English foot­baller to play overseas goes back fur­ther than you think. In 1891, Her­bert Ki­plin be­gan his jour­ney in Italy by play­ing for FC Tori­nense.

Not only did Ki­plin play pro­fes­sion­ally in Italy un­til 1907, he was also a found­ing mem­ber of one of the most fa­mous clubs in the world to­day – AC Mi­lan.

The first ma­jor player to go was John Charles, the gen­tle gi­ant of Leeds and Wales. In April 1957, Ju­ven­tus paid what was then a stag­ger­ing £65,000 to take Charles to Turin.

He played for Ju­ven­tus for five years in which he scored 108 goals in 155 matches, win­ning the league three times and the cup twice.

Leeds paid a record fee of £53,000 to se­cure his re­turn, but things did not work out and Roma paid £70,000 to take him back to Italy.

Two other play­ers tried their luck in Italy around the same time – Jimmy Greaves joined AC Mi­lan and De­nis Law went to Torino.

Both failed to set­tle and re­turned to Eng­land (Greaves to Tot­ten­ham and Law to Manch­ester United) with enor­mous suc­cess.

After play­ing for Aston Villa and just break­ing into the Eng­land squad, Gerry Hitchens joined In­ter in 1961. He played in the 1962 World Cup fi­nals in Chile and scored five goals in seven ap­pear­ances (he be­came the first English­man to rep­re­sent his coun­try while on the books of a for­eign club).

In an eight-year ca­reer in Italy, Hitchens also played for Torino, Ata­lanta and Cagliari, but missed out on the ’66 World Cup squad be­cause Sir Alf told him he pre­ferred to pick home­based play­ers. Dur­ing the Seven­ties, it be­came fash­ion­able for slightly fad­ing stars to join the new Amer­i­can League (the NASL). Rod­ney Marsh joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ge­orge Best played for LA Aztecs, Fort Laud­erdale and San Jose. Then in 1977, after help­ing Liver­pool win the Euro­pean Cup, Kevin Kee­gan joined Ham­burg in Ger­many. His all-ac­tion style won over the fans who were a bit un­sure of him at first. He was nick­named ‘Mighty Mouse’ and be­came a cult hero, win- ning two Euro­pean Foot­baller of the Year awards.

Tony Wood­cock also won the Euro­pean Cup for Not­ting­ham For­est in 1979 and joined Cologne, where he scored 28 goals in 81 matches. He re­turned home to join Ar­se­nal in 1982. He had a suc­cess­ful four years be­fore go­ing back to fin­ish his ca­reer in Ger­many.

West Brom’s Laurie Cun­ning­ham turned on a daz­zling dis­play against Va­len­cia in a UEFA Cup tie and clinched a dream trans­fer to Real Madrid in 1979 for £950,000.

Al­though he won a do­mes­tic dou­ble, in­juries took their toll. He stayed overseas and played for Sport­ing Gi­jon, Mar­seilles and Rayo Val­le­cano. Sadly, he died in a car crash in Madrid at the age of just 33.

Play­ing overseas, test­ing your abil­ity and learn­ing to live in an­other coun­try should be more ap­peal­ing

Italy was a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for some in the early 1980s.

Liam Brady, the dar­ling of the Ar­se­nal fans, joined Ju­ven­tus for £600,000 and spent two sea­sons with them, win­ning the Ital­ian Cham­pi­onship both years.

In 1982, he moved to Sam­p­do­ria (where he teamed up with Trevor Fran­cis) and also played for In­ter and As­coli.

AC Mi­lan signed var­i­ous Bri­tish play­ers - Ray Wilkins, Luther Blis­sett, Joe Jor­dan and Mark Hate­ley – with mixed re­sults.

Other play­ers who tried their luck in Serie A were Graeme Souness, Gor­don Cowans, Paul Ride­out, Ian Rush, Paul Ince, Des Walker, Paul Gas­coigne and, last sea­son, Joe Hart at Torino.

In France, Glenn Hod­dle and Chris Wad­dle shone along the south coast at Monaco un­der Arsene Wenger and at Mar­seille re­spec­tively.

Both won ti­tles, with Wad­dle win­ning three con­sec­u­tive league crowns and reach­ing the 1991 Euro­pean Cup fi­nal.

Gerry Arm­strong was one of the North­ern Ire­land heroes in the 1982 World Cup, scor­ing the win­ning goal against host na­tion Spain.

It earned the like­able Ir­ish­man a move to Real Mal­lorca and, after play­ing, a lu­cra­tive ca­reer in the me­dia cov­er­ing Span­ish foot­ball.

Terry Ven­ables had gained a good rep­u­ta­tion as a man­ager with his suc­cesses at Crys­tal Palace and Queens Park Rangers. This at­tracted of­fers from some of Europe’s most pres­ti­gious clubs.

In 1984,Ven­ables took over as man­ager of Barcelona, earn­ing the nick­name ‘El Tel’.

Dur­ing his three sea­sons in Spain, Barca won the ti­tle in 1985 (their first ti­tle since 1974) and reached the 1986 Euro­pean Cup fi­nal, al­though they lost to Steaua Bucharest in a penalty shootout.

Ven­ables signed Bri­tish strik­ers Steve Archibald, Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker. The lat­ter was the most suc­cess­ful at the Camp Nou, scor­ing 21 goals in his first sea­son, in­clud­ing a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over ri­vals Real Madrid.

Real Madrid them­selves have had their share of Bri­tish stars in re­cent years with David Beck­ham, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Owen and Steve McMana­man ply­ing their trade at the Bern­abeu.

McMana­man en­joyed the most pro­duc­tive time there – win­ning eight tro­phies that in­cluded two Cham­pi­ons Leagues. Cur­rently, Gareth Bale is star­ring in the all-white strip since sign­ing in 2013.

Bri­tish man­agers have also worked abroad, as men­tioned al­ready, Terry Ven­ables.

Oth­ers who had suc­cess with for­eign clubs in­clude Bobby Rob­son, Roy Hodgson and John Toshack, while some who have strug­gled and not lasted long in­clude David Moyes, John Gre­gory and, last sea­son, Gary Neville at Va­len­cia.

Steve McClaren is an ex­am­ple of a mixed time abroad with a ti­tle win in Hol­land and fail­ure in Ger­many.

Now, con­sider these names: Ash­ley Cole, Ravel Mor­ri­son, Joey Barton, Joe Cole, Micah Richards and Jer­maine Pen­nant.

What these play­ers have in com­mon is that they have all re­cently played for clubs in Europe and, de­spite any is­sues they may have had, they de­serve some credit for leav­ing home – or is it that some of them had burned their bridges here and went be­cause they were not wanted by Premier League clubs?

But with the na­tional team un­der­per­form­ing and our play­ers be­ing crit­i­cised, it would be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how our top play­ers would fare in Ger­many, Italy and Spain.

Go­ing abroad is noth­ing new for Bri­tish play­ers as they have played all over the world.

Now, though, it is more about ex­tend­ing a play­ing ca­reer (in the US again or in In­dia) than en­hanc­ing one, as they slow down and usu­ally en­sure a fi­nal pay­day.

But, ul­ti­mately, we live in the era of the English foot­ball bub­ble of Premier League, mega-money TV and spon­sor­ship deals, for­eign own­ers and all their riches.

If you’re con­stantly be­ing told that we have the best league in the world, then why go any­where else?

Pi­o­neer: Her­bert Ki­plin Ital­ian job: John Charles

Madrid mis­sion: David Beck­ham

Monaco mas­ter: Glenn Hod­dle

Go­ing Ger­man: Tony Wood­cock

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