We hear a lot in the news about the influx of foreign players into the English football system.
So much so that ‘home-grown quotas’ have even been introduced to try and give bias to English players. In fact, 65.9% of Premier League players are now non-English.
With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to look at English players who have sought fame and fortune in different countries – with mixed results.
Goalkeeper | Scott Carson (Turkey)
You have to feel for Scott Carson. Once a hugely promising goalkeeping talent with Leeds, he couldn’t quite force his way into the Liverpool first team once he moved to the red half of Merseyside.
However, after a series of loan switches he found his home at West Brom and was beginning to make a name for himself. Calls for him to be called up to the England team were answered when he made his competitive debut in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia and… well, disaster struck.
He fumbled a tame Niko Kranjcar shot into his net, England lost and Carson has never looked the same since. He now plies his trade in the Turkish league for Bursaspor.
Defence | Michael Mancienne (Germany)
Michael Mancienne is an interesting name on the list. The dreadlocked defender came through the Chelsea youth ranks and enjoyed a three-year loan spell at Wolves.
He’s amassed an impressive 30 England U21 caps and even made the full squad in 2008, although he didn’t play. Just when it looked like he might have a chance at cracking the Chelsea first team their old sporting director took him to his new club Hamburg in Germany. He’s played there since and is forging quite the promising career for himself.
Defence | Anton Ferdinand (Turkey)
Undeniably the weaker Ferdinand brother, Anton has simply never lived up to his older brother’s phenomenal billing. Despite solid spells at West Ham, Sunderland and, most recently, QPR, the younger Ferdinand has never really been a guaranteed first team starter.
In January he moved on loan to Bursaspor in Turkey alongside Scott Carson, and has since made just three appearances.
Defence | Eric Dier (Portugal)
Probably the least well-known player on this list, Eric Dier is another young player with an interesting story. The 19-year-old came through the famous Sporting Lisbon youth ranks in Portugal – the same place that produced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo.
He spent last season on loan at Everton, although he failed to make a single appearance. However, twelve appearances for Sporting Lisbon this term show that he is held in high regard and is certainly one to watch.
Midfield | David Beckham (France)
The master of the free kick and the possessor of perhaps the most gifted right foot the game has ever seen, David Beckham continues to spread his brand across the world.
Since leaving Manchester United in in 2003 Becks has gone from strength to strength with impressive spells in Madrid, Milan, Los Angeles and now Paris with Paris Saint-Germain.
At 37-years-old he may not have much longer left, but he is certainly a tremendous ambassador for the English game.
Midfield | Joey Barton (France)
Speaking of tremendous ambassadors… What more can be said about the enigma that is Joey Barton? Whether he’s reciting his favourite philosophy quotes, punching the opposition, developing a French accent or claiming he’s England’s best midfielder, the Liverpudlian is never far away from the headlines.
After severing ties at several Premier League clubs he seems to have found a new home in France on loan at Marseille, although a recent controversy involving Barton labelling Thiago Silva a ‘ladyboy’ might scupper his chances of a permanent move. Whether or not QPR even want him back is another matter.
Midfield | Nigel Reo-Coker (Canada)
Reo-Coker is a player whose fall from grace seems to have been just as quick as his rise to prominence. After starting out at the original Wimbledon, Reo-Coker burst onto the scene with West Ham and played a pivotal role in their run to the FA Cup final in 2006.
However, since then Reo-Coker has slowly fallen into obscurity with forgettable spells at Aston Villa, Bolton and Ipswich. The physical midfielder now earns his wage in the MLS with Vancouver Whitecaps alongside the likes of Kenny Miller and Andy O’Brien.
Midfield | Giles Barnes (USA)
Giles Barnes is another midfielder who has suffered from somewhat of a fall from grace. As a youngster at Derby Barnes looked the real deal having made his debut at the tender age of 17.
However, following his big move to West Brom back in 2010 it all went downhill. Several injuries prevented him from making any real impact and following a disappointing spell at Doncaster last term the creative midfielder now finds himself playing for Houston Dynamo in the MLS.
Midfield | Lloyd Sam (USA)
Lloyd Sam’s inclusion in this list perhaps symbolises the lack of English players playing abroad. A pacey winger who came through the youth ranks at Charlton and enjoyed a relatively successful career there, Sam never really lived up to his promise.
Having journeyed around several Football League clubs Sam earned a move to New York Red Bulls in 2012 where he now lines up alongside none other than Thierry Henry.
Striker | Emile Heskey (Australia)
Emile Heskey has earned somewhat of a cult hero status within English football. The bulky frontman seems to have spent his career dividing public opinion over whether or not strikers actually need to score goals to be considered effective – the jury is still out.
However, 62 England caps do not lie and Heskey can certainly look back on a tremendous career. There’s still life in the old dog yet though, and he’s been banging the goals in for Newcastle Jets in Australia.
Striker | Gary Hooper (Scotland)
Can we count Scotland as abroad? The lack of alternative English players playing away from home means that yes, we can. Hooper has enjoyed a highly productive spell at Scottish champions Celtic since he moved there from Scunthorpe United for £2.4million in 2010.
He’s scored 62 goals in just 92 appearances for the Scottish giants, which surely begs the question why this natural goal scorer isn’t being given a chance in the England squad. Perhaps only a move back to England could afford him the opportunity to turn out for Roy Hodgson’s side.
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