Current English players playing abroad

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Whether it's considered a good way to end your career or an admission that it's finally fizzling out, the fact remains that a number of English players continue to test their feet in unfamiliar waters in order to make a success of themselves.

Players like Gary Linekar, Steve McManaman, David Beckham and Owen Hargreaves have all become successes outside of English football, whilst others such as Jermaine Pennant, Darius Vassell, Jonathan Woodgate and Stan Collymore have proved that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

With this in mind, the current crop of notable players abroad are providing a mixed bag of success and failure. With journeymen, veterans and released youngsters, I present the English players abroad. 

Newcastle United Jets (Australia) - The Australian outfit founded in 2000 have two notable former Premier League players in Michael Bridges and Emile Heskey. Bridges who joined in 2009 and was captain of the Jets for a season and had already plied his trade in Australia during a spell with Sydney FC in the 2007/08.

The front man has certainly been a journey man in the English game with his most consistent streak featuring for Sunderland between 1995-1999 scoring 16 goals in 79 games. He then went on to play at the top of the pitch for Leeds United between 99 and 2004 scoring 19 goals. Since 2004 however, Bridges saw himself move around the country seeking regular football up and down the football league. With short and long(ish) spells at Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland (again), Bristol City, Carlisle United, Hull City, Sydney FC, MK Dons and finally finding his feet in football again at the Jets. In fact, he came out of retirement to continue his career with the Aussie side last season. 

The other front man that features for the Jets is Emile Heskey. The cult hero is both a legend and a flop in the English game, depending on which club you support. The fact remains however that Emile Heskey has scored more Premier League goals than Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The former Liverpool and Leicester City legend saw his career in English football go out with a whimper but since arriving at the Australian side, he has once again become a fan favourite. Scoring nine goals in 23 appearances, Heskey is enjoying football again with the Aussie fans singing his name loud and proud. 

The next players to feature on the list are brothers Adam and Richard Eckersley, two former prospects in the Manchester United youth system. Older brother Adam has seen the majority of his career in between England, Belgium and Denmark on loan spells.

However, he seems to have found his feet at his current club AGF Aarhus from the Danish Superliga. Who? I hear you ask, well the Danish club certainly are not an attractive side in the Danish league and only finished 7th in their domestic league last season. Adam Eckersley's career from Manchester United prospect to bit part player in Denmark, isn't exactly the fairy tale story that could have been. His brother Richard has also fallen to this sad fate, spending loan spells up and down England with Plymouth, Bradford and Bury. Richard Eckersley is now a week in week out player at Toronto FC in the MLS. Whether that's a success or not is left to the fan to decide.

Another young prospect that was destined for success in the English game was former Chelsea youth player Michael Mancienne. The youngster did have promising spells on loan with Queens Park Rangers and more importantly with Wolverhampton Wanderers when they were competing in the Premier League, amounting a huge 114 games whilst out on loan to both clubs.

Chelsea, however, had no place for the Englishman and German side Hamburger SV provided Mancienne with a lifeline. Although not a regular with the German outfit the defender is still playing his football at a top level which is vital should he look to make a move back into the English game. Don't expect the youngster to feature in an England shirt any time soon though. 

Another young player that was expecting big things is former Manchester City youth team player Ahmed Benali. The Mancunian signed a professional contract with the Blues in the summer of 2010, but didn't feature in a single game during the 2010/11 season. As a result he was sent out on loan to Rochdale in 2011 to gain some playing time.

He only managed two appearances for the club but somehow attracted interest from Italian outfit Brescia. He has since made two appearances since the beginning of 2012 but doesn't look likely to destined anyone notable in the world game. 

The latest player to sign a contract abroad is former West Ham United star Anton Ferdinand, joining Antalyaspor on the 14th August 2013 on a three year contract. Ferdinand is looking to become the first English player to succeed in the Turkish league, with many before him failing in the task. Ferdinand, who was cast aside at QPR by Harry Redknapp will look to end his career on a high by leading the mediocre Turkish club to some sort of domestic success.

Perhaps less known but also an Englishman playing in the Turkish league is former Birmingham City prospect Jake Jervis. The 21-year-old is mostly known for enduring an amazing eight loan spells in the space of three years. Between 2010 and January 2013 Jervis wore the shirts of Hereford United (twice) , Notts County, Swindon Town, Preston North End, Carlisle United, Tranmere Rovers and Portsmouth.

It wasn't until January this year that Jervis signed for another club on a permanent basis. Turkish side Elazigspor, a side used to fighting it out at the bottom of the Turkish league, bought the youngster for £50,000 on a three-year contract. Jervis has impressed since joining the club going straight into the starting eleven for his first appearance against European football regulars Fenerbahce, scoring after only 11 minutes. 

Many English players young and old have begun to end or reignite their careers in the upcoming league in the United States. MLS has already seen a number of English players enjoy the lifestyle and easy going "soccer" that it offers. Most notably of course is former England captain David Beckham.

Perhaps the biggest names in the league now however are that of Nigel Reo-Coker and Giles Barnes, not exactly world renowned Beckham types but both players seem to have settled into life in the US and Canada.

Reo-Coker, who signed for the Vancouver Whitecaps in February this year, is already a fan favourite after impressive displays and notorious crunching tough tackles. Barnes, a former Derby County, Fulham, West Brom and Doncaster Rovers player, began his career state side with Housten Dynamo in August 2012. The player has scored an impressive eight goals in 24 appearances meaning he has also become a hero at the club. 

John Bostock is the next player to make the list. His career path has certainly gone from potential high to an unfortunate low. Bostock broke onto the scene in 2007/08 with Crystal Palace when he became the youngest ever player to be fielded in a professional game at the age of 15 years and 295 days. Not only this but he represented England as the captain of the under-17 side sparking interest from a number of Premier League clubs.

Bostock was an exciting talent and Tottenham Hotspur were soon chasing his signature in what was deemed to be one of the best signings for future development. Spurs announced that the player had signed for the club in May of 2008. Upon hearing the news however, Crystal Palace responded by stating that they had no awareness of any deal involving Bostock and Spurs.

After a lengthy and unhealthy dispute between both clubs a tribunal stepped in to order Spurs to pay Palace a potential fee of £1.25million and an extra £200,000 if Bostock was called up the England squad. After finally putting the messy transfer behind him, Bostock was free to begin his career at White Hart Lane.

What followed, however, was hardly the dream move Bostock had expected; the youngster was sent up and down the country and across the football league on largely unsuccessful loan spells. He was even sent to Toronto FC for his final loan spell, but it too was fruitless. In June this year, Spurs released Bostock and the player was advertised as a free agent. A month later, in what was considered a bizarre move, Bostock signed for Royal Antwerp, a club that plays in the second tier of Belgian football. A once exciting and talented England Under-17 captain has now settled for football away from the English game but in a league that is certainly overlooked by the majority of the world. What went wrong for the lad is a mystery and we're highly unlikely to see Bostock return to live out the expectations of him.

The final man to make the list of English players abroad is Rohan Ricketts, now more famous for being one of the most travelled English players in the history of the professional game. Ricketts has played for a staggering 14 clubs across four different continents.

Beginning his career as a talented youth at Arsenal in 2001/02 season, the journey man went onto sign for rivals Tottenham Hotspur where he enjoyed his most consistent spell of football earning 63 professional appearances for the club between 2002-2005. Since then, however, Ricketts has played across the English leagues with Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Queens Park Rangers, Barnsley and Exeter City.

Ricketts didn't keep to the English game however and soon found himself signing for all sorts of club across the globe. He spent time in the Irish League with Shamrock Rovers, the MLS with Toronto FC, the Hungarian league with Diosgyori VTK, the Moldovan league with FC Dasia Chisinau and in the fourth tier of German football with SV Wilhelmshaven.

During his time in Moldova, Ricketts claims never to have been paid by the club. His journey doesn't end there however, as Ricketts most recent travels have seen him play in the Indian League with Dempo scoring seven in 16 and his current club is Ecuadorian outfit Deportivo Quevedo.

Ricketts even has trial spells at Southend United and Stevenage. Whatever you make of Ricketts career as a footballer, you can't deny that this man has made the most of his abilities as a footballer to get himself around the globe as more of a backpacker of the game.

He really is the definition of the term globetrotter. Where he will end up next is anyone's guess. When he's played for clubs in Moldova and India it's hard to say. Perhaps Ricketts will pop up on some random island in the Pacific and become a legend!

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Anton Ferdinand
Premier League
Michael Mancienne
Emile Heskey

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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