There has always been a tendency for a select few of Britain's best footballers to try their luck in another country, but never since the 1980s have we seen such a large number of homegrown players plying their trade abroad. Right now, the likes of Jude Bellingham, Aaron Ramsey, Jadon Sancho, Reece Oxford, Jamal Musiala, Stephy Mavididi, Ashley Young, Kieran Trippier and Chris Smalling all play for teams across the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga. For those of you that find this trend for British players to move abroad unique, well, it isn't. We're going to take a look at ten British players that have moved abroad and had success in another country, becoming cult-heroes against the odds.
If you are going to start this list with one particular player then it would have to be John Charles. Charles made the move to Juventus in 1957 after making his name with Leeds Utd. During his time in Turin, the Welsh centre-forward scored 108 league goals in 155 appearances, helping the Old Lady to three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in a 5-year spell with the club. Charles finished the 1957/58 season as Serie A's top scorer and in 1959 he came close to winning the Ballon d'Or, finishing third behind Di Stefano and Kopa.
After conquering the Premier League with Man Utd, David Beckham made the move to Real Madrid in 2003 and made an instant impact with a goal on his La Liga debut. The England captain enjoyed a 4-year spell in Spain before making the move to MLS side LA Galaxy where he played a huge role in raising the standard and reputation of football in the USA. During his time at Galaxy, Backs enjoyed a loan move to AC Milan in 2009/10 and when he left the MLS side he made the move to back to Europe with Ligue 1 side PSG. Everywhere he went, Backham made an impact on and off the pitch and now owns his own MLS franchise, Inter Miami.
Kevin Keegan was perhaps the original David Beckham in his day, performing well on the pitch as well as being a trend-setter off it. Following a fantastic spell with Liverpool, Keegan moved to Bundesliga side Hamburg in the late 70s where despite finding it difficult to adapt at first, he went on to league the club to glory and claim the Ballon d'Or twice, but never managed to win the European Cup with the German club, losing in the final to Nottingham Forest.
Serie A side Lazio forked out £5.5m for Gazza in 1992 and despite never really fulfilling his potential in Italy, he remains a much-loved cult hero amongst the clubs hardcore fans. Gazza showed glimpses of his talent and even that was enough for many Lazio fans, who took to the player instantly. fitness issues and off the field antics would eventually lead to Gazza joining Rangers in 1995.
Cunningham became the first-ever English player to play for Real Madrid when he swapped the West Midlands for sunny Spain in 1979. Cunningham made a good start to life at Real Madrid as the club claimed the league and cup double but injuries limited his time on the pitch and he was loaned out on two occasions before joining Marseille in 1984. Cunningham sadly died aged just 33 in a car crash whilst playing for Spanish side Rayo Vallecano.
David Platt left Aston Villa for Italian side Bari in 1991, impressing so much in Serie A that Juventus signed him the following year. Platt claimed the UEFA Cup with Juve despite only featuring in 20 games and then moved to Sampdoria for two seasons and claimed the Coppa Italia in 1994. Platt is still remembered fondly by all three clubs.
Lambert only played for Borussia Dortmund for one season, 1996/97, but what a season it was as he helped guide the club to the Champions League title. Lambert arrived at the star-studded club from Motherwell on a free transfer and despite playing a pivotal role in the Champions League final he would return to Scotland the very next season.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding McManaman's free transfer move to Real Madrid that saw him turn from hero to villain for many of the Liverpool faithful. However, McMananman proved that he had made the right choice as he secured two league titles and two Champions Leagues in his four seasons with the Spanish giants. The England international scored in the Champions League final victory over Valencia and remains a Real Madrid favourite to this day.
Owen Hargreaves is the only player on this list to start his career abroad before moving to England. Hargreaves signed for Bayern Munich aged just 16 and went on to make over 200 appearances for the Bavarians and claiming four league titles, three German Cups and the Champions League. Hargreaves would sign for Man Utd in 2007 and go on to win the Premier League and another Champions League winners' medal.
Marseille spent a lot of money to bring Chris Waddle to the club in 1989, but it proved a stroke of genius. The Marseille fans soon christened Waddle ‘Magic Chris' due to his fantastic displays, skills, crosses and through-balls. Waddle stayed at the Ligue 1 side for 3-years and guided the club to the league title in his first two seasons but suffered defeat in the Champions League final to Red Star Belgrade. Waddle would later be voted second in Marseille's ‘Player of the 20th Century', which just shows the impact he had at the club.