It goes without saying that England, Wales and Scotland have produced some magnificent footballers over the years. Some stay in the UK for the entirety of their careers while some players find success overseas.
These are the top five footballers from the UK to play abroad.
5. David Beckham
When England legend David Beckham left Manchester United in 2003, he spent the rest of his career in Spain, USA, Italy and France before retiring in 2013.
Arguably, his most famous spell abroad was with Real Madrid where he won two La Liga titles, made 155 appearances, scored 20 goals and became a part of the famous “Galácticos” era with the club.
4. Gary Lineker
England’s third highest goalscorer of all-time joined Spanish giants Barcelona after the 1986 World Cup – the tournament in which he won the Golden Boot.
The clinical striker played 104 times for the Catalan side and scored 42 goals. His most memorable performance came against rivals Real Madrid where he scored a hat trick in a 3-2 win in the El Classico.
Lineker returned to England in 1989 to play for Tottenham Hotspur before leaving once again three years later to finish his career with Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight.
3. Gareth Bale
At the time of his move, Gareth Bale was the most expensive player in footballing history. His move to Real Madrid in 2013 was an exciting one for Wales fans and despite getting some stick from his own supporters, Bale remains one of Britain’s most decorated exports.
The Welshman has won 13 major honours with the La Liga side including four Champions League titles. Bale may have more goals at the club than Zinedine Zidane and R9 but his infamous “Wales, golf, Madrid” flag is what may have turned the Madrid fans against him.
However, the 30-year-old still remains a fantastic footballer and one of the greatest players from the Wales to play abroad.
2. Kevin Keegan
Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan became the highest paid footballer in 1977 when he made the move to German club Hamburg. He had a shaky start to life outside the UK but he went on to win the Bundesliga the following season including two consecutive Ballon d’Ors in ’78 and ’79.
Keegan also finished as a runner-up in the European Cup in ’80 when Hamburg lost to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. The “Mighty Mouse” returned to England after three years with the German club to sign for Southampton. He would later go on to finish his career with Australian club Blacktown City in 1985.
1. John Charles
The number one spot has to be given to John Charles. The Swansea-born man was without a doubt Wales’ finest footballer and Britain’s most successful player outside of Britain.
Charles was one of the most versatile footballers the game had ever seen. He was capable of playing as a centre forward and a centre back in any given situation. After scoring 157 goals in 297 games for Leeds United, Charles joined Juventus in 1957 for a British record transfer fee.
He won three Serie A titles, two Coppa Italias and was later voted as Juventus’ greatest ever foreign player in 1997. Charles also spent a year with Roma and returned to the UK in the mid 1960s where he played for the likes of Cardiff City, Hereford United and Merthyr Tydfil.
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