Best XI: English players abroad

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It is commonplace nowadays to blame England's failures in major tournaments on the ever-increasing influx of foreign players to the Premier League. 

It is argued that foreign players supposedly obstruct English players in terms of gaining match opportunities and henceforth halt their progress, leading to failure at World Cups and European Championships. 

Therefore, you would expect more English players to follow the examples set by David Beckham and Michael Owen in joining other high quality leagues. Yet, there are only a handful of English footballers who have ventured outside of England's top flight in order to acquire first team experience in foreign divisions.

In this article I list the top eleven English players who have played abroad (from the start of last season) in a 4-2-3-1 formation. I have excluded players from Cardiff or Swansea, but Scottish teams are included.

Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster - Celtic

The 6ft 7in giant from Hexham was signed by The Bhoys from Newcastle in July 2012 after growing impatient with having to contend with Shay Given and subsequently Tim Krul for the No.1 Jersey at St James' Park. 

Forster has enjoyed a hugely successful spell at his new club, playing Champions League football, winning two Scottish Premier League titles and the SFA Cup.

Forster's performances reaped rewards as Roy Hodgson named him in his October 2012 squad to face San Marino and Poland.

Right-back: Michael Mancienne - Hamburger SV 

Serial loanee Mancienne finally gained a permanent move away from Stamford Bridge in July 2011, joining Hamburger SV for £2.2 million. The Chelsea academy product initially enjoyed a loan at Queens Park Rangers before joining Wolverhampton Wanderers twice on loan. 

Mancienne demonstrated his versatility at Wolves, playing at right-back, centre-back and defensive-midfield. His performances merited numerous England U21 call ups with his last appearance coming in 2011. 

With Wolves only just surviving in the Premier League, Mancienne decided to join Frank Arnesen at Hamburg two years ago and has since relished the chance to play regularly and is keen to become a legend just like Kevin Keegan was when he played for the German team.

Mancienne could be an example to other young players who are fed up with loan spells as he claims he enjoys his leading role at Hamburg.

Centre-back: Anton Ferdinand - Bursaspor

Having fallen out of favour with QPR manager Harry Redknapp following the 4-2 hampering of the Loftus Road side by MK Dons in January, Ferdinand seized the opportunity to join Turkish side Bursaspor on loan until the end of the season. 

The 28-year-old formed a defensive alliance with fellow Englishman Scott Carson, making 7 appearances before rejoining QPR this summer.

Centre-back: Eric Dier - Sporting Lisbon

Relatively unknown 19-year-old Dier moved from England to Portugal at the age of just 10 where he was spotted for Sporting's academy. 

For someone who had just entered double figures it was a brave leap to sign for a foreign team, but Dier hasn't looked back. Despite lingering in Sporting's academy and youth sides for 7 years, as well as a season long loan to Everton in 2011, Dier broke through to Sporting's first team last season, making 15 appearances in total. 

This achievement has led to his international career flourishing, as he played in all three of England U20's World Cup matches this summer,  being deployed as a centre back. 

Dier is undoubtedly talented and is tipped to be one of England's best centre-backs in years to come. However, he is still eligible to play for Portugal at senior level.

Left-back: Ezekiel Fryers - Standard Liege

Former Manchester United prospect Fryers joined Belgian heavyweights Standard Liege on a free transfer in August 2012 after progressing through the Red Devils' youth teams. 

The 20-year-old made seven starts for Standard Liege when he suddenly fell out of favour after the manager, Ron Jans, was sacked. 

Fryers reported to his agent that he was homesick and subsequently Tottenham stepped in and signed Fryers for £3million in January 2013 - much to the fury of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Right-midfield: David Bentley - FK Rostov

Current free agent Bentley ended his torrid time at Tottenham with loan spells at Russian side FK Rostov in September 2012 and then Blackburn Rovers in January 2013. 

Bentley had been given copious amounts of chances at Tottenham, being re-installed into the Spurs side on different occasions.

Unfortunately, Bentley couldn't re-ignite his career at Spurs and joined FK Rostov on loan, bucking his usual trend of signing for a mediocre Premier League club on a short term deal. 

He managed seven appearances for the Russian side and featured in the side's 1-0 win over Dynamo Moscow.

Defensive-midfield: Joey Barton - Olympique Marseille

Manchester City 3 - 2 QPR will forever be remembered for the 'AGUERRRROOOOOO' goal, but if you re-live the events of that day you will also recall Joey Barton infamously being sent off for attacking Vincent Kompany and Carlos Tevez. 

His actions resulted in him collecting a 12 match ban, and ultimately, a transfer to the French powerhouse Marseille. 

The Merseysider proved to be a key asset in Marseille's fortunes last season - contributing assists and goals in the Europa League and playing 25 times in the league to help OM achieve a second place finish and a Champions League place.

However, Barton was once again surrounded by controversy when he insulted Thiago Silva on Twitter. 

The midfielder is due to return to Loftus Road but he has made it distinct that he would prefer to stay in France.

Defensive-midfield: Nigel Reo-Coker - Vancouver Whitecaps

Former West Ham, Aston Villa and Bolton star Reo-Coker is currently playing a starring role in the middle of Vancouver's midfield in the MLS after rejecting the chance to extend his contract at Ipswich in January 2013. 

Reo-Coker is rapidly receiving a reputation as being a robust, tough tackler for the Whitecaps. 

Left-midfield: Lloyd Sam - New York Red Bulls

28 year old Lloyd Sam hasn't had the most illustrious of careers but the Leeds born winger will hope the move abroad to one of America's more renowned sides will be the right move for him. 

Having made 12 appearances and scoring one goal for the Manhattan side Sam looks to have found his feet and will hope that a call up for Ghana may once again be on the cards. 

Sam made one appearance for the England U20 side in 2005 so is eligible to play for the country of his parent's birth.

Centre forward: Emile Heskey - Newcastle United Jets

Entering the twilight years of his career, Heskey decided to sign a deal with Australian side Newcastle United Jets in September 2012. T

he man that everybody loved to joke about has been a sound signing for the Jets, scoring 9 goals in 23 games, including an impressive overhead kick against Melbourne Victory. 

The 35-year-old's international career fizzled out after England's elimination from the 2010 World Cup, but with an upturn in his club form recently, could we see a sensational return from the intimidating centre forward in time for Brazil 2014?

Striker: Gary Hooper - Celtic

Former Scunthorpe United striker had been journeying around England's lower leagues for  four years before a move to The Hoops in 2010 for a fee of £2.5 million propelled him into the public spotlight across Scotland and England. 

The 25-year-old from Loughton is scoring freely for Celtic and has netted a staggering 82 goals in 137 appearances for the club. 

The general consensus is that this form should warrant a call up to the national side, like

English colleague Fraser Forster. 

Some feel that the striker needs to prove himself in England's top division first though, and he may obtain the chance to do that this year as it has been widely reported that Premier League new boys Hull City and Crystal Palace as well as Southampton are interested in the £5 million rated frontman. 


Scott Carson - Former Charlton man Carson had a period at Bursaspor but has just recently signed for Wigan Athletic.

Hogan Ephraim - Winger who can play on either side is another who played in the MLS, joining Toronto FC for a loan spell from QPR.

Michael Higdon - Liverpool born striker signed for NEC Nijmegen in Holland this transfer window but has played in Scotland almost all his career, most recently for Motherwell.

Giles Barnes - Ex-West Brom, Derby and Doncaster central midfielder is thriving for MLS side Houston Dynamo, scoring 4 goals in 17 appearances. He is still only 24

Adam Eckersley - Former Manchester United man Eckersley is a left-sided player who has been at Danish side Aarhus GF for 3 years now. He has been consistently linked with moves back to England, and especially to Championship clubs.

So there you have it- the best England has to offer outside of the Premier League. Ten to 20 ago we had the likes of Steve McManaman, David Beckham and Paul Ince all dominating foreign leagues. Now, Gary Hooper and Joey Barton are about as good as it gets.


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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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