Saturday, 14 September 2013

Gareth Bale - How Will Real's New Man Compare Against The Top 12 British Exports

Real MadridGareth Bale makes his Real Madrid shirt debut tonight and joins a rather short-list of British players willing to chance their arm overseas.
Here takes a look at the top 12 players to leave these shores in search of fame and glory on the continent.

Ian Rush (Juventus)
Ian Rush was a free scoring legend at Liverpool having, in combination with Kenny Dalglish, torn defences apart across Europe.
And in the days when Serie A football seemed to be an exotic destination, he was lured to Turin.
The chance to turn out for the Old Lady and play in Europe at a time when English clubs were banned in the wake of the Heysel tragedy, Juventus paid Liverpool a British record transfer fee £3.2m for his services and loaned him straight back for a season.
He eventually headed out in 1987 and immediately found Italian defences not as charitable as their English counterparts. In a country where defending is revered as an art form, he managed eight goals in 29 games before heading home.
Rush said: "I remember when I arrived in Turin one of the first things I had to do was open an Italian bank account.
"There were so many issues to deal with off the field it took me a long time to be able to concentrate solely on doing what I did best on it. By then, I was probably already wondering if I would be going back home."

John Charles (Juventus)
The big Welshman headed to Italy for British record £65,000 transfer fee in 1957 and "Il Gigante Buono", or the gentle giant to you and me, was a huge hit. He was Serie A's top scorer in his first season with 28 goals with his strikes helping Juventus win the title. Charles was to win two more Scudetto's in his five years in Turin and scored 93 goals in 155 matches.

Gary Lineker (Barcelona)
Back in 1986, the then Barcelona manager Terry Venables was looking for a poacher to play alongside Mark Hughes and convinced his Spanish masters to pay Everton £2.8m to land Lineker after he returned from the World Cup in Mexico with the lauded title as the tournament's Golden Boot. His hat-trick in a 3-2 defeat of major rivals Real Madrid helped him win over supporters. But Barcelona failed to win La Liga during his time in Spain. His highpoint came when helping them lift the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1989 with a win over Sampdoria. The writing was on the wall for Lineker when new manager Johan Cruyff started playing him as a winger and he returned to England to join Spurs in 1989.

Mark Hughes (Barcelona and Bayern Munich)
Venables paid £2m for Hughes but he was a flop in Spain, where he scored just four goals in 28 games for a team that was meant to dominate the league. He was sent out on loan the following season to Germany and he managed to regain his confidence with a series of strong displays before heading back to England and re-signing for Manchester United.

Michael Owen (Real Madrid)
Owen was hurried out of the Liverpool exit door with indecent haste by Rafa Benitez in 2004. Madrid were delighted to have captured one of the Premier League's proven goalscorers although how they expected to fit him into a front line already home to Raul and the other Ronaldo was anyone's guess. Owen failed to catch fire in Spain. He was benched early in his spell before returning to the team and hitting some form. He returned home to sign for Newcastle after 383 days.
He said: "Off the pitch, it’s very difficult. The Spanish culture is a very easy way of life; there’s a slow pace to it.
‘When you get over there, you want to move into a house and get settled, get your wife happy, your kids happy and your family and everyone else happy, and you’re trying to change as well, but unfortunately you’re stuck in a hotel for five months.
'The legal system and all these things to buy a house are so slow. We wanted to do it as quick as we could, but I was in a hotel for five months with a young child.’
While his time in Spain is considered by many a failure, the striker can point to the fact he scored 13 goals despite only gaining 19 La Liga starts. Not a bad record! 

Steve McManaman (Real Madrid)
Unlike his former Liverpool team-mate, McManaman found life in Spain a breeze after joining as a free agent in 1999. He learned Spanish before his arrival and enjoyed adapting to the local customs. On the pitch the Scouser was in and out of the team but still won the Champions League twice - scoring in 2000 - and La Liga twice during his four years at the club. He did have some hard times and was denied a squad number in 2000 as los Merengues tried to sell him. But he toughed it out and was part of the famed Galaticos side.
McManaman said: "You can speak about this and you can speak about that, but if you've got players who are better than the opposition then invariably you're going to win if you've got the right attitude."
He was released by Real soon after David Beckham joined in 2003

David Beckham (Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, PSG)
It was a decade ago that Beckham's increasingly fractious relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson saw him begin his world tour by signing by Real Madrid - this despite Luis Figo being cemented in his favoured right midfield birth. Beckham was forced to play a holding role - that did not stop him scoring three minutes into his La Liga debut. He failed to win the title in his first three seasons, but did lead La Liga's assist charts in 2005-06. Fabio Capello left Beckham on the bench when taking over in 2006 and he agreed to join LA Galaxy in 2007, but before jetting off to Hollywood he secured his only title in Spain with a final day win. Whilst his time in the MLS can be discounted, he did regain some credibility by twice spending time on loan at AC Milan before finishing his career with a league title win at PSG.

Laurie Cunningham (Real Madrid, Charleroi, Rayo Vallecano)
Long before Beckham became a star, the winger became the first British player to join Real Madrid in 1979. Known as a playboy, he loved the spotlight in Spain and was a major success on the pitch until injuries took his toll and his love of a disco saw the media turn against him. He helped Real win the league and cup double in his first season and played in his club's 1-0 defeat by Liverpool in the 1981 European Cup Final. But a knee injury picked up in training restricted him and Cunningham failed to recapture the form that made him such an exciting player. He was killed in a car crash in Spain in July 1989 at the age of 33, having just played his part in Rayo Vallecano's promotion to La Liga for the first time

David Platt (Bari, Juventus, Sampdoria)
The goalscoring midfielder's desire to play in Serie A was no secret although heading to unfashionable Bari in 1991  was probably not the move he dreamed of on the back of an impressive World Cup in Italy. A stunning return of 11 goals in 29 games from the centre of the park in his debut season saw him catch Juventus' eye and with Bari relegated, he headed to Turin for a single campaign where he was not a regular. The team did win the UEFA Cup although Platt did not make the bench. In July 1993 he signed for Sampdoria for £5.2m, playing under Sven-Goran Eriksson and winning the Coppa Italia.

Liam Brady (Juventus, Sampdoria, Inter, Ascoli)
The Irishman's stint in Italy was a remarkable affair. Having impressed Juventus when playing in an Arsenal team that beat the Serie A side in the Cup Winners' Cup final semi-finals in 1979, he headed to Turin the following season. There Brady won two titles - the second he secured with a penalty winner on the final day of the season - before moving on in 1982 following Michel Platini's arrival. He turned out for Sampdoria, Inter and Ascoli without winning trophies, but earning lots of plaudits.

Trevor Francis (Sampdoria, Atlanta)
After an injury hit end to his time at Manchester City, Francis headed to Sampdoria with the Blues keen to move his wages off their bill. Francis was helped settle in by the presence of Liam Brady, newly arrived from Juventus. His pace and movement made him a favourite with the fans - despite limited success. He spent a year at Atlanta that brought a solitary goal before he joined Graeme Souness at Rangers.

Graeme Souness (Sampdoria)
The Scot surprised many by joining Trevor Francis and signing for the Italian side in 1984 but his arrival was key to Sampdoria enjoying their best season since 1961 and finishing fourth as well as winning the Coppa Italia. His experience was key to a team that boasted youngsters Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli. But the following season was a disappointment and he left to take over as player boss at Rangers in 1986.

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