English players have an incredibly mixed record overseas. The likes of Hoddle, Keegan and Waddle all earned rave reviews outside of Britain, whilst David Beckham is part of a rare group of players to have won a league title in four different countries.
On the other hand, you have the likes of Stan Collymore, Jonathan Woodgate and Neil Franklin, who enjoyed rather less successful stints on foreign shores.
Here are our 7 best English players currently playing abroad
Before we start, there are a couple of things we should clear up. Firstly, players only on-loan to foreign clubs are excluded. Secondly, players playing in Scotland or Wales are excluded. And thirdly, the seven is based purely on current ability.
7. Joe Cole – Tampa Bay Rowdies
Joe Cole ? Surely he’s a washed-up has-been playing in the second tier of football in the US, and we’d have been better off including someone like Matt Derbyshire or Jack Price.
Well, Cole is indeed 36 years of age now, and Tampa Bay Rowdies do play in the second tier of US soccer. However, Cole seems to have rediscovered his love of the game in the sun-drenched city of St. Petersburg, Florida. He has scored 15 goals in 44 league games from midfield, and was nominated for last seasons Golden Ball. A former West Ham and Chelsea Player of the Year, Cole never fulfilled his potential, but he still had an excellent career.
6. Liam Ridgewell – Portland Timbers
Another experienced former Premier League player now playing in the States, Liam Ridgewell racked up more than 250 top flight appearances with the three West Midland clubs, West Brom, Aston Villa and Birmingham. A solid centre-back and a leader, Ridgewell has been with Portland Timbers since leaving West Brom in 2014, and he now captains the Oregon-based outfit. All in all, Ridgewell has made 89 MLS appearances for the Timbers, winning an MLS Cup in 2015 and making the divisions All-Star team in 2014.
5. George Saunders – Envigado
Almost certainly the least well-known player in this seven, down in no small part to the fact that he is the only player who has never been contracted to an English club, George Saunders is believed to be the only British footballer playing in South America. The London-born and Islington-raised central midfielder relocated to Spain as a child due to his father’s work. He began his career with Villareal, before stints with Levante and Eldense. During this time, Saunders become the first Englishman to represent the Catalan national team, turning out for the under-17’s alongside the likes of Thiago and Jordi Alba.
In 2013, shortly after an unsuccessful trial at Leyton Orient, Saunders made a daunting move to Colombia, signing for America de Cali. He has since turned out for a handful of Colombian clubs, but looks to have settled at midtable Envigado, where he’s now playing the best football of his career.
4. John Bostock – Bursaspor
John Bostock is one of the youngest debutants in the history of the Football League, having turned out for Crystal Palace at the age of 15. By that time, the club had already turned down £1 million plus bids from the likes of Barcelona, a mark of the incredibly high-regard this young boy was held in. In the end, his somewhat acrimonious departure arrived in the form of a move to Tottenham Hotspur, with the fee being decided by a tribunal.
Bostock had all the tools to be a top midfield player. He was well-built, muscular, quick, talented on the ball and had a potentially lethal left foot. However, five loan moves yielded no promise of coming good on that potential for Spurs, and they sold him to Belgian side OH Leuven in 2014. Bostock has been working his way back up ever since, having been named as Ligue 2 Player of the Season with Lens, and now playing in the Turkish Super Lig for Bursaspor.
3. Bradley Wright-Phillips – New York Red Bulls
Given the number of European players who have gone over to the MLS as designated players and flopped, the success of Bradley Wright-Phillips is quite extraordinary. In England, he looked to be too good for League One but not good enough for the Championship, failing to hit double figures in five attempts in England’s second tier. He joined New York Red Bulls from Charlton Athletic in 2013, and since 2014 at least, he has been absolutely prolific. 109 goals in 182 games tells you all you need to know, of the two-time MLS Golden Boot winner and Best XI inclusion. Wright-Phillips may be 33 now, but he has still bagged 9 goals in 14 games this season.
2. Ravel Morrison – Atlas
Having moved around so much during the early years of his career, Ravel Morrison is now playing for a club called Atlas. There’s a joke in there somewhere, I’m sure of it. Anyhow, Morrison is quite possibly the ultimate poster boy for unfulfilled potential, and the mantra that ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’
Morrison was hailed as the best youngster that Sir Alex Ferguson had ever seen at Manchester United, more gifted than fellow youth team players at that time like Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. In the end, both Manchester United and West Ham ultimately grew tired of Morrison’s inability to get the best out of the talents he had with a ball at his feet, and he joined Lazio in 2015. Having been frozen out by the Serie A club, Morrison joined Atlas on-loan last summer, where he has scored 4 goals in 25 games.
1. Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho right now is in a similar position to where Ravel Morrison was when he was just 18, and there are many valuable life lessons the teenager could learn from Morrison’s example. It can be very difficult for young footballers to keep their feet on the ground and maintain some kind of normality within their lives when they are handed untold riches often before they’ve even kicked a ball in a meaningful match.
That is now something Sancho has done, since the England youth international who recently turned 18, has made 12 appearances for Borussia Dortmund this season. It hasn’t been the barnstorming start that some may have hoped for, but Sancho looks to be settling into life in the Bundesliga, and it’s important that people don’t forget this is a footballer who was born in the year 2000.
Sancho is a quick and dangerous wide player who typically operates off the left, where he likes to cut inside onto his favoured right foot. He bagged 14 goals in 18 games for England’s U17’s. It would be a travesty if he wasn’t playing for his country when the next World Cup comes around.