10 English players who succeeded abroad as Raheem Sterling lined up for Barcelona move
If the deal does go through, Sterling will become the latest English player to leave the Premier League behind in pursuit of continental glory.
Not many dare to take the plunge but some – including Kieran Trippier, Owen Hargreaves and David Platt – have gone on to lift silverware abroad.
Here, Mirror Football recalls ten English players who’ve succeeded on foreign soil – giving Sterling the inspiration to follow suit.
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Hoddle was one of English football’s finest talents during the 1980s, winning two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup to become a Tottenham legend.
But in 1987, he decided to leave London behind and join a young French coach at Monaco. His name? Arsene Wenger.
Hoddle went on to win the French title during his first year at the glamourous club and nearly did the same 12 months later.
A serious knee injury curtailed his progress and he ended up returning to England to finish his career as a player-manager at Swindon and Chelsea.
Watching Sancho struggle at Manchester United, it’s easy to forget just how good he was at Borussia Dortmund before his summer move.
At 17, the Manchester City academy prospect left England behind to try to prove himself in one of European football’s toughest leagues.
Sancho went on to score 38 goals and produce 51 assists in 104 Bundesliga outings – a record the very best in the division would be pleased with – and won the German Cup.
The winger is yet to show his best in England following his £73million transfer – but it’s only a matter of time before he lights up the Premier League.
McManaman was one of the Premier League’s great wingers during the 1990s but won little as Liverpool’s “Spice Boys” often failed to deliver.
It proved to be a wise decision as McManaman went on to win two La Liga titles and the Champions League twice before returning to England four years later.
The 37-cap international’s trophy haul in the Spanish capital arguably makes him the most successful English footballer to play overseas.
Unlike others on this list, Gascoigne didn’t win trophies abroad. He did, however, win the hearts of Lazio faithful thanks to his dazzling style of play.
Already a legend in England thanks to his heroics at the World Cup in 1990, Gazza left Tottenham to join the Italian giants in the summer of 1992.
The move should have gone ahead 12 months earlier but a serious knee injury he picked up in the 1991 FA Cup final delayed his foreign bow.
Injuries plagued Gazza’s time at Lazio, making just 43 Serie A appearances during his three-year spell, but he was still adored by the blue side of Rome.
The current trailblazer for English players abroad, Bellingham – at just 18 – has become a key figure at the heart of Dortmund’s midfield.
Like Sancho, the teenager decided to leave Birmingham City aged 17 in July 2020 and test himself against Germany’s finest.
Bellingham has gone on to prove his quality in the Champions League – most notably against Man City last season – and make his senior England debut.
Many believe the midfielder will go on to become of English football’s biggest stars – and only a brave person would bet against that.
Thanks to his trickery and confidence, Waddle was one of English football’s best wingers during the 1980s after spells at Newcastle and Tottenham.
He followed in Hoddle’s footsteps in 1989 by joining French giants Marseille and went on to lift the league title in each of his three seasons at the club.
And Waddle almost won the European Cup, losing the 1991 final on penalties to Red Star Belgrade, before joining Sheffield Wednesday in 1992.
“I would say to any young player, if you’re not getting your game… go and be brave, try a different culture, go and play there,” said Waddle in 2019.
Alongside Cyrille Regis and Brendon Baston, Cunningham was one of the first black footballers to play regularly in England’s top-flight at West Brom.
He was signed by Real Madrid in 1979 – becoming the first English player in the club’s history – and went on to win La Liga and the Copa del Rey twice.
Cunningham’s time in the Spain is best remembered for a stunning performance against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in February 1980, receiving a standing ovation for his efforts.
The trailblazing winger went on to play in France and Belgium before he sadly lost his life in a car crash in Madrid in July 1989, aged just 33.
Keegan was one of the best players in England during the 1970s, winning three league titles, two Uefa Cups, the FA Cup and European Cup at Liverpool.
Although he was already playing in the best team in Europe, he took the plunge and joined German giants Hamburg in the summer of 1977.
It was a brave call by the forward but paid off, winning the Bundesliga title in 1978-79 and the Ballon D’or in 1978 and 1979.
And he nearly won the European Cup in 1980, narrowly losing the final 1-0 to Brian Clough’s famous Nottingham Forest team.
Ex-Leicester star Lineker was the finest goalscorer in England – if not Europe – when he left Everton for Barcelona in the summer of 1986.
The striker had just won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Mexico, proving his quality on the biggest stage.
He was prolific during his three-year spell in Spain, scoring 52 goals in all competitions, to help Barcelona win the Copa del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup.
Lineker, who went on to play in Japan, will always be fondly remembered by the Catalan fans for his hat-trick against rivals Real Madrid.
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Perhaps England’s greatest footballing export, Beckham went to achieve plenty after leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2003.
He went on to win La Liga during his four-year spell in Spain, but it’s what he did afterwards that is most significant.
At still only 32, Beckham left European football to join LA Galaxy as the MLS’ first big-name footballer, enhancing the American league’s global appeal.
He also went on to play for Italian giants AC Milan before finishing his career at Paris Saint-Germain, lifting the Ligue 1 title.