The last collection of British players to move on mass to foreign climes was the era of Paul Gascoigne, David Platt, Mark Hateley, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Ince.
Some went to France, like Tony Cascarino, but most went to Italy to join the giants of AC Milan, Internazionale, and Sampdoria.
Gazza is in the papers again, unfortunately not for the best of reasons, but few football fans of the nineties missed out on seeing the Lazio star on Gazzetta Football Italia, Channel 4’s iconic show.
Since then however, the number of players going abroad has dwindled and has been flagged as one of the reasons why the England team has performed so poorly. Cocooned in the Premier League, players did not develop the technical skills of the European contemporaries, relying instead on the blood and guts ethos that typifies the British player.
There were a few who ventured abroad, with varying success. Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate did not enjoy the best of spells at Real Madrid, although David Beckham did pick up a league winners medal before moving to LA Galaxy, Milan and recently Paris St Germain.
Vinny Samways enjoyed the end of his career in Spain, Stan Collymore less so. Jay Bothroyd went to Perugia, in Italy, Dale Jennings is currently at Bayern Munich, but has yet to appear for the first team, David Bentley spent the first half of the season on loan at FC Rostov (Russia), while Joey Barton is currently at Marseille (France). For a football mad nation, that pales into insignificance when you consider the number of Frenchmen, Spaniards and Germans playing abroad, in the Premier League alone.
However, now that clubs have intensified the quality and quantity of their youth training over the last five or so years, we are seeing players of the calibre that could play for the best teams in the world, most notably the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Gareth Bale has already been linked with the two clubs, while Jack Wilshere showed on Wednesday night, as England beat Brazil, that he has the ability that could see him play for any team in the world.
Whether these moves materialise is one thing; whether the players are brave enough to move to abroad, to a different playing culture and lifestyle, is another.
Some moves will improve the player, some will be disasters, but Britain is still producing players good enough to play for Europe’s giants, begging the question; will the players take the plunge and move abroad? Only time will tell.
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