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Insight

Englishmen Abroad

With England captain Harry Kane and sparkling young talent Jude Bellingham both excelling at big clubs on foreign soil, the days of the homesick Englishman seem to be long gone

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Dan Evans

Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number by some, but not Jude Bellingham. Luck, good or bad, doesn’t come into it for this young Englishman, whose 13th appearance in a Real Madrid shirt in late October ended with a stoppage-time winner at Barcelona – his 13th goal of an extraordinary start to life in Spain.

Bellingham had lit up his maiden Champions League outing for the club with a similarly late winner against Union Berlin. In that sense, two goals on his Clásico debut simply enhanced the excitement already generated by a 20-year-old who has since become the first Madrid player ever to score in his first four games in the European Cup.

Nor is Bellingham the only England international excelling at one of Europe’s great clubs. Harry Kane graced his first Bayern vs Dortmund Klassiker with a hat-trick, his third in the Bundesliga already. Moreover, after just 12 league games for Bayern, the England captain had raced to 18 goals, surpassing the previous record for a single season by any English player in the competition – the 17-goal mark achieved by Kevin Keegan and Jadon Sancho. 

No Englishman has ever finished top scorer in Germany’s top division – nor in Spain, Italy or France – but Kane is fast on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s biggest English success story since Keegan, aka ‘Mächtig Maus’ (Mighty Mouse).

“He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game,” said his delighted coach, Thomas Tuchel, of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur skipper. “We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that.” 

Much has changed in the world since, having arrived from Liverpool in 1977, Keegan was posted packs of Shredded Wheat by fans who heard he was missing his favourite breakfast cereal. Despite that hankering, as a Hamburg player he ended up winning two Ballon d’Or awards and playing in a European Cup final (not to mention recording a hit song, Head over Heels in Love).

“Ultimately, I bucked a trend given that Englishmen did not have a good reputation when it came to playing abroad and probably, to this day, still don’t,” Keegan said in his autobiography, asserting a common view that English footballers do not tend to travel well.

It is true that some of the English game’s most prolific scorers failed to settle in Italy – Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law in the 1960s, Ian Rush in the 80s – yet this column feels compelled to point out a good number of cases to the contrary. Keegan’s own England team-mates Tony Woodcock and Ray Wilkins played in Germany (Köln) and Italy (AC Milan) respectively in the 80s. Meanwhile, Mark Hateley became a Milan cult hero for a magnificently headed derby winner in the middle of that decade, when Trevor Francis – alongside Scotsman Graeme Souness – helped Sampdoria win their first Coppa Italia. 

Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number by some, but not Jude Bellingham. Luck, good or bad, doesn’t come into it for this young Englishman, whose 13th appearance in a Real Madrid shirt in late October ended with a stoppage-time winner at Barcelona – his 13th goal of an extraordinary start to life in Spain.

Bellingham had lit up his maiden Champions League outing for the club with a similarly late winner against Union Berlin. In that sense, two goals on his Clásico debut simply enhanced the excitement already generated by a 20-year-old who has since become the first Madrid player ever to score in his first four games in the European Cup.

Nor is Bellingham the only England international excelling at one of Europe’s great clubs. Harry Kane graced his first Bayern vs Dortmund Klassiker with a hat-trick, his third in the Bundesliga already. Moreover, after just 12 league games for Bayern, the England captain had raced to 18 goals, surpassing the previous record for a single season by any English player in the competition – the 17-goal mark achieved by Kevin Keegan and Jadon Sancho. 

No Englishman has ever finished top scorer in Germany’s top division – nor in Spain, Italy or France – but Kane is fast on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s biggest English success story since Keegan, aka ‘Mächtig Maus’ (Mighty Mouse).

“He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game,” said his delighted coach, Thomas Tuchel, of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur skipper. “We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that.” 

Much has changed in the world since, having arrived from Liverpool in 1977, Keegan was posted packs of Shredded Wheat by fans who heard he was missing his favourite breakfast cereal. Despite that hankering, as a Hamburg player he ended up winning two Ballon d’Or awards and playing in a European Cup final (not to mention recording a hit song, Head over Heels in Love).

“Ultimately, I bucked a trend given that Englishmen did not have a good reputation when it came to playing abroad and probably, to this day, still don’t,” Keegan said in his autobiography, asserting a common view that English footballers do not tend to travel well.

It is true that some of the English game’s most prolific scorers failed to settle in Italy – Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law in the 1960s, Ian Rush in the 80s – yet this column feels compelled to point out a good number of cases to the contrary. Keegan’s own England team-mates Tony Woodcock and Ray Wilkins played in Germany (Köln) and Italy (AC Milan) respectively in the 80s. Meanwhile, Mark Hateley became a Milan cult hero for a magnificently headed derby winner in the middle of that decade, when Trevor Francis – alongside Scotsman Graeme Souness – helped Sampdoria win their first Coppa Italia. 

Read the full story
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Into the 90s, Paul Gascoigne’s first Serie A goal – a late header to earn a Rome derby draw – helped him become an icon at Lazio (together with tons of mischief). David Platt followed up his Italia 90 scoring feats with 11 goals in a brilliant campaign at Bari, before spells with Juventus and Sampdoria, while fellow midfielder Paul Ince was a crowd favourite at Inter. (A quarter-century on, in the red and black of Milan, Fikayo Tomori and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are the San Siro’s latest resident inglesi.) 

Over in France, Glenn Hoddle won the league at Monaco under Arsène Wenger (and alongside Hateley). Chris Waddle then helped Marseille reach a European Cup final and is still revered by fans.

In Spain, Laurie Cunningham played in a European Cup final for Madrid and Gary Lineker hit a Clásico hat-trick for Barcelona, where he won the 1988/89 European Cup Winners’ Cup. However, the fact that young Welsh striker Mark Hughes looked like a fish out of water in his one season alongside Lineker is still seen by some as more typical of players transplanted from the English game. 

Aitor Karanka, the former Madrid defender, even heard it on Bellingham’s arrival in Spain. “People said to me, ‘Ah, but he’s English,’” Karanka tells me. “I replied, ‘Well, how about McManaman and Beckham?’”

It is the first of that pair, Steve McManaman, his old team-mate and a scorer in Madrid’s 2000 Champions League final triumph, whom Karanka cites as he dwells on a key reason for Bellingham’s impact: having the strength of character to be himself. 

McManaman, says Karanka, was the same. “He didn’t show any of that pressure: ‘English players don’t do well. Real Madrid is a very big club…’ With his character, it was: ‘I’m here to be myself and this is me.’ He was laughing the day he arrived and he was laughing the day he left.

“Macca was just being himself and we’re seeing the same thing with Jude now – Jude is being himself. And now he’s surrounded by better players, he is even better. It’s the character of the player.”

Indeed, Karanka saw that for himself in summer 2020 when, as manager, he passed through the entrance door at Birmingham City as Bellingham was exiting the club. Karanka heard from a senior Birmingham official that, although a deal with Dortmund was imminent, “the kid says, until Birmingham are safe, he’s not signing and he wants to play every game.”

With that determination, Karanka concludes, “he can play anywhere in the world and he’s showing it.” Travelsick? Bellingham doesn’t know the meaning of the word – in any language, it seems. 

Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number by some, but not Jude Bellingham. Luck, good or bad, doesn’t come into it for this young Englishman, whose 13th appearance in a Real Madrid shirt in late October ended with a stoppage-time winner at Barcelona – his 13th goal of an extraordinary start to life in Spain.

Bellingham had lit up his maiden Champions League outing for the club with a similarly late winner against Union Berlin. In that sense, two goals on his Clásico debut simply enhanced the excitement already generated by a 20-year-old who has since become the first Madrid player ever to score in his first four games in the European Cup.

Nor is Bellingham the only England international excelling at one of Europe’s great clubs. Harry Kane graced his first Bayern vs Dortmund Klassiker with a hat-trick, his third in the Bundesliga already. Moreover, after just 12 league games for Bayern, the England captain had raced to 18 goals, surpassing the previous record for a single season by any English player in the competition – the 17-goal mark achieved by Kevin Keegan and Jadon Sancho. 

No Englishman has ever finished top scorer in Germany’s top division – nor in Spain, Italy or France – but Kane is fast on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s biggest English success story since Keegan, aka ‘Mächtig Maus’ (Mighty Mouse).

“He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game,” said his delighted coach, Thomas Tuchel, of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur skipper. “We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that.” 

Much has changed in the world since, having arrived from Liverpool in 1977, Keegan was posted packs of Shredded Wheat by fans who heard he was missing his favourite breakfast cereal. Despite that hankering, as a Hamburg player he ended up winning two Ballon d’Or awards and playing in a European Cup final (not to mention recording a hit song, Head over Heels in Love).

“Ultimately, I bucked a trend given that Englishmen did not have a good reputation when it came to playing abroad and probably, to this day, still don’t,” Keegan said in his autobiography, asserting a common view that English footballers do not tend to travel well.

It is true that some of the English game’s most prolific scorers failed to settle in Italy – Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law in the 1960s, Ian Rush in the 80s – yet this column feels compelled to point out a good number of cases to the contrary. Keegan’s own England team-mates Tony Woodcock and Ray Wilkins played in Germany (Köln) and Italy (AC Milan) respectively in the 80s. Meanwhile, Mark Hateley became a Milan cult hero for a magnificently headed derby winner in the middle of that decade, when Trevor Francis – alongside Scotsman Graeme Souness – helped Sampdoria win their first Coppa Italia. 

Englishmen Abroad
Insight

Englishmen Abroad

With England captain Harry Kane and sparkling young talent Jude Bellingham both excelling at big clubs on foreign soil, the days of the homesick Englishman seem to be long gone

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Dan Evans

Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number by some, but not Jude Bellingham. Luck, good or bad, doesn’t come into it for this young Englishman, whose 13th appearance in a Real Madrid shirt in late October ended with a stoppage-time winner at Barcelona – his 13th goal of an extraordinary start to life in Spain.

Bellingham had lit up his maiden Champions League outing for the club with a similarly late winner against Union Berlin. In that sense, two goals on his Clásico debut simply enhanced the excitement already generated by a 20-year-old who has since become the first Madrid player ever to score in his first four games in the European Cup.

Nor is Bellingham the only England international excelling at one of Europe’s great clubs. Harry Kane graced his first Bayern vs Dortmund Klassiker with a hat-trick, his third in the Bundesliga already. Moreover, after just 12 league games for Bayern, the England captain had raced to 18 goals, surpassing the previous record for a single season by any English player in the competition – the 17-goal mark achieved by Kevin Keegan and Jadon Sancho. 

No Englishman has ever finished top scorer in Germany’s top division – nor in Spain, Italy or France – but Kane is fast on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s biggest English success story since Keegan, aka ‘Mächtig Maus’ (Mighty Mouse).

“He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game,” said his delighted coach, Thomas Tuchel, of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur skipper. “We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that.” 

Much has changed in the world since, having arrived from Liverpool in 1977, Keegan was posted packs of Shredded Wheat by fans who heard he was missing his favourite breakfast cereal. Despite that hankering, as a Hamburg player he ended up winning two Ballon d’Or awards and playing in a European Cup final (not to mention recording a hit song, Head over Heels in Love).

“Ultimately, I bucked a trend given that Englishmen did not have a good reputation when it came to playing abroad and probably, to this day, still don’t,” Keegan said in his autobiography, asserting a common view that English footballers do not tend to travel well.

It is true that some of the English game’s most prolific scorers failed to settle in Italy – Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law in the 1960s, Ian Rush in the 80s – yet this column feels compelled to point out a good number of cases to the contrary. Keegan’s own England team-mates Tony Woodcock and Ray Wilkins played in Germany (Köln) and Italy (AC Milan) respectively in the 80s. Meanwhile, Mark Hateley became a Milan cult hero for a magnificently headed derby winner in the middle of that decade, when Trevor Francis – alongside Scotsman Graeme Souness – helped Sampdoria win their first Coppa Italia. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number by some, but not Jude Bellingham. Luck, good or bad, doesn’t come into it for this young Englishman, whose 13th appearance in a Real Madrid shirt in late October ended with a stoppage-time winner at Barcelona – his 13th goal of an extraordinary start to life in Spain.

Bellingham had lit up his maiden Champions League outing for the club with a similarly late winner against Union Berlin. In that sense, two goals on his Clásico debut simply enhanced the excitement already generated by a 20-year-old who has since become the first Madrid player ever to score in his first four games in the European Cup.

Nor is Bellingham the only England international excelling at one of Europe’s great clubs. Harry Kane graced his first Bayern vs Dortmund Klassiker with a hat-trick, his third in the Bundesliga already. Moreover, after just 12 league games for Bayern, the England captain had raced to 18 goals, surpassing the previous record for a single season by any English player in the competition – the 17-goal mark achieved by Kevin Keegan and Jadon Sancho. 

No Englishman has ever finished top scorer in Germany’s top division – nor in Spain, Italy or France – but Kane is fast on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s biggest English success story since Keegan, aka ‘Mächtig Maus’ (Mighty Mouse).

“He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game,” said his delighted coach, Thomas Tuchel, of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur skipper. “We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that.” 

Much has changed in the world since, having arrived from Liverpool in 1977, Keegan was posted packs of Shredded Wheat by fans who heard he was missing his favourite breakfast cereal. Despite that hankering, as a Hamburg player he ended up winning two Ballon d’Or awards and playing in a European Cup final (not to mention recording a hit song, Head over Heels in Love).

“Ultimately, I bucked a trend given that Englishmen did not have a good reputation when it came to playing abroad and probably, to this day, still don’t,” Keegan said in his autobiography, asserting a common view that English footballers do not tend to travel well.

It is true that some of the English game’s most prolific scorers failed to settle in Italy – Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law in the 1960s, Ian Rush in the 80s – yet this column feels compelled to point out a good number of cases to the contrary. Keegan’s own England team-mates Tony Woodcock and Ray Wilkins played in Germany (Köln) and Italy (AC Milan) respectively in the 80s. Meanwhile, Mark Hateley became a Milan cult hero for a magnificently headed derby winner in the middle of that decade, when Trevor Francis – alongside Scotsman Graeme Souness – helped Sampdoria win their first Coppa Italia. 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Into the 90s, Paul Gascoigne’s first Serie A goal – a late header to earn a Rome derby draw – helped him become an icon at Lazio (together with tons of mischief). David Platt followed up his Italia 90 scoring feats with 11 goals in a brilliant campaign at Bari, before spells with Juventus and Sampdoria, while fellow midfielder Paul Ince was a crowd favourite at Inter. (A quarter-century on, in the red and black of Milan, Fikayo Tomori and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are the San Siro’s latest resident inglesi.) 

Over in France, Glenn Hoddle won the league at Monaco under Arsène Wenger (and alongside Hateley). Chris Waddle then helped Marseille reach a European Cup final and is still revered by fans.

In Spain, Laurie Cunningham played in a European Cup final for Madrid and Gary Lineker hit a Clásico hat-trick for Barcelona, where he won the 1988/89 European Cup Winners’ Cup. However, the fact that young Welsh striker Mark Hughes looked like a fish out of water in his one season alongside Lineker is still seen by some as more typical of players transplanted from the English game. 

Aitor Karanka, the former Madrid defender, even heard it on Bellingham’s arrival in Spain. “People said to me, ‘Ah, but he’s English,’” Karanka tells me. “I replied, ‘Well, how about McManaman and Beckham?’”

It is the first of that pair, Steve McManaman, his old team-mate and a scorer in Madrid’s 2000 Champions League final triumph, whom Karanka cites as he dwells on a key reason for Bellingham’s impact: having the strength of character to be himself. 

McManaman, says Karanka, was the same. “He didn’t show any of that pressure: ‘English players don’t do well. Real Madrid is a very big club…’ With his character, it was: ‘I’m here to be myself and this is me.’ He was laughing the day he arrived and he was laughing the day he left.

“Macca was just being himself and we’re seeing the same thing with Jude now – Jude is being himself. And now he’s surrounded by better players, he is even better. It’s the character of the player.”

Indeed, Karanka saw that for himself in summer 2020 when, as manager, he passed through the entrance door at Birmingham City as Bellingham was exiting the club. Karanka heard from a senior Birmingham official that, although a deal with Dortmund was imminent, “the kid says, until Birmingham are safe, he’s not signing and he wants to play every game.”

With that determination, Karanka concludes, “he can play anywhere in the world and he’s showing it.” Travelsick? Bellingham doesn’t know the meaning of the word – in any language, it seems. 

Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number by some, but not Jude Bellingham. Luck, good or bad, doesn’t come into it for this young Englishman, whose 13th appearance in a Real Madrid shirt in late October ended with a stoppage-time winner at Barcelona – his 13th goal of an extraordinary start to life in Spain.

Bellingham had lit up his maiden Champions League outing for the club with a similarly late winner against Union Berlin. In that sense, two goals on his Clásico debut simply enhanced the excitement already generated by a 20-year-old who has since become the first Madrid player ever to score in his first four games in the European Cup.

Nor is Bellingham the only England international excelling at one of Europe’s great clubs. Harry Kane graced his first Bayern vs Dortmund Klassiker with a hat-trick, his third in the Bundesliga already. Moreover, after just 12 league games for Bayern, the England captain had raced to 18 goals, surpassing the previous record for a single season by any English player in the competition – the 17-goal mark achieved by Kevin Keegan and Jadon Sancho. 

No Englishman has ever finished top scorer in Germany’s top division – nor in Spain, Italy or France – but Kane is fast on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s biggest English success story since Keegan, aka ‘Mächtig Maus’ (Mighty Mouse).

“He has talent, ability, aura, personality, modesty, and love and dedication to the game,” said his delighted coach, Thomas Tuchel, of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur skipper. “We persuaded the captain of England to leave England and I think we can pat ourselves on the back for that.” 

Much has changed in the world since, having arrived from Liverpool in 1977, Keegan was posted packs of Shredded Wheat by fans who heard he was missing his favourite breakfast cereal. Despite that hankering, as a Hamburg player he ended up winning two Ballon d’Or awards and playing in a European Cup final (not to mention recording a hit song, Head over Heels in Love).

“Ultimately, I bucked a trend given that Englishmen did not have a good reputation when it came to playing abroad and probably, to this day, still don’t,” Keegan said in his autobiography, asserting a common view that English footballers do not tend to travel well.

It is true that some of the English game’s most prolific scorers failed to settle in Italy – Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law in the 1960s, Ian Rush in the 80s – yet this column feels compelled to point out a good number of cases to the contrary. Keegan’s own England team-mates Tony Woodcock and Ray Wilkins played in Germany (Köln) and Italy (AC Milan) respectively in the 80s. Meanwhile, Mark Hateley became a Milan cult hero for a magnificently headed derby winner in the middle of that decade, when Trevor Francis – alongside Scotsman Graeme Souness – helped Sampdoria win their first Coppa Italia. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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