10 British footballers who carved out their career overseas

10 British footballers who carved out their career overseas

English football has long been home to players from nations all over the world. Yet for whatever reason, there are far fewer British footballers who end up playing outside of the UK.

That said, many more British players are now choosing to carve out their careers overseas, with a particularly notable exodus in the past decade or so.

Read about 10 British footballers who have previously or are currently plying their trade in leagues around the world.

1. Gareth Bale

Cardiff-born Gareth Bale famously made the switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013 for a then world-record fee thought to be around £85 million.

Bale’s Madrid career was certainly impressive, scoring 106 goals in 258 appearances, including a spectacular overhead kick in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool.

Since then, the Wales skipper has also played in the MLS in the United States for Los Angeles FC, his current club.

2. Jude Bellingham

At the age of 19, Jude Bellingham is already an established midfielder both for club and country.

After turning professional at his boyhood club of Birmingham City, the England prodigy was signed by Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga in 2020.

The teenager has already made his mark in Germany, making more than 60 league appearances and scoring seven goals by the time he left for the 2022 World Cup.

3. Kieran Trippier

Renowned for his technical ability at taking set pieces, Kieran Trippier spent a successful few years at Atlético Madrid in La Liga.

Throughout three seasons with the Colchoneros, Trippier became a mainstay in the first team, ultimately helping his side to the 2020-21 La Liga title.

The right-back has of course now returned to England, currently playing for Newcastle United at the time of writing.

4. Tammy Abraham

Tammy Abraham has made a significant impact in Italy since signing for Roma in 2021. A Chelsea youth system product, Abraham was given his chance at first-team football under former manager Frank Lampard before switching London for Rome.

Across around 50 league matches, Abraham has scored 20 goals for the club, and played 89 minutes when Roma beat Feyenoord 1-0 to win the inaugural Europa Conference League in 2022.

5. Chris Smalling

Another Brit playing in Italy with Roma is former Manchester United and Fulham defender, Chris Smalling.

Smalling initially left United on loan in 2019 before signing permanently a year later after a highly successful year with the Serie A club.

Capped 31 times by England, Smalling was named man of the match when Roma won the Europa Conference League in 2022.

6. Jadon Sancho

Although he spent his youth career with Watford and Manchester City, Jadon Sancho’s first senior minutes actually came outside of the UK with Borussia Dortmund.

The tricky winger signed for the German outfit in 2017 and made more than 100 appearances throughout four years with the club, chipping in with 38 goals and an eyewatering 45 assists.

His fine form caught the attention of Manchester United, and so Sancho returned to England with a move to Old Trafford in 2021.

7. Fikayo Tomori

Much like Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori also came out of the Chelsea academy and into the first team under the guidance of Frank Lampard.

But after a successful loan to AC Milan during the 2020-21 season, the Italian giants decided to sign Tomori permanently, exercising a £25 million option to buy.

Despite being born in Canada, Tomori moved to England before the age of one and so plays his international football for the Three Lions.

8. Aaron Ramsey

Wales international Aaron Ramsey joined the club of Brits playing abroad in 2019, when the former Arsenal midfielder moved to Juventus.

Ramsey’s time with the Italian giants was highly successful, winning Serie A in the 2019-20 season and also a Coppa Italia in 2020-21.

After three years with Juve including a loan spell to Rangers in 2022 in-between, Ramsey now plays his football with Nice in France’s Ligue 1.

9. Ashley Young

Aston Villa club captain Ashley Young also spent time away from England during his career. After making more than 300 senior appearances for Aston Villa and Manchester United, Young made the move to Inter Milan in 2020.

Across more than 40 appearances, Young was a crucial part of the starting 11 during his time at the San Siro stadium.

Inter would go on to win Serie A in 2020-21, making Young one of just a few Englishmen to have this medal.

10. David Beckham

One of the few British players to have played for clubs on different continents, David Beckham is perhaps the most well-known English footballer throughout the world thanks to his time spent at many clubs.

Beckham spent more than a decade with Manchester United before embarking on his world tour, moving to Real Madrid and making more than 100 appearances for Los Blancos.

The winger, famed for his pinpoint free kicks, also spent subsequent spells with LA Galaxy in the MLS, AC Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain throughout an illustrious career.