By 90Min
September 17, 2018

Reiss Nelson, Sheyi Ojo and Patrick Roberts were perhaps the three most high profile players to follow in a growing trend this summer. Namely, young British players going abroad.

While all three have only made loan moves (from Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City respectively) it is encouraging to see an apparent rise in young players broadening their horizons by seeking experience and valuable game time overseas.

Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney and Jadon Sancho aren't the only ones holding the British end up. Here are eight lesser known players finding success away from the comforts of Blighty...


Jack Harper - Spain

The 22-year-old former Scotland youth international was actually born to ex-pats in the town of Fuengirola on Spain's Costa del Sol.


The forward played for his local team until being picked up by none other than Real Madrid at the age of 13. He spent six years in Los Blancos' youth setup and, after a two-year interlude with Brighton, is now back in the province where he grew up chasing promotion in Spain's Segunda Division with Malaga.


He is the first choice striker at the side known for nurturing home-grown talent such as Isco and recently scored his first senior goal in a win over Andalusian rivals Almeria, as Malaga top the table in the early stages of the 2018/19 season.


Other Brits in Spain include: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Nick Blackman (Sporting Gijon), Patrick Roberts (Girona), Marcus McGuane (Barcelona B), Charlie I'Anson (Real Murcia) 


Matt Derbyshire - Cyprus

Derbyshire once famously rejected a move to Manchester United in favour of joining boyhood club Blackburn Rovers.

The now 32-year-old forward has 10 Premier League goals across several seasons with Blackburn but failed to hold down a regular first team place. After several loan spells, he first moved overseas to Greek giants Olympiacos, where he earned the nickname 'the English killer' for scoring the winner against rivals Panathinaikos.

After more time back in England, he 'jumped at the chance' to join AC Omonia in 2016 and was the Cypriot First Division's top scorer last season with 23 goals.

"The stats say I am in the best form of my life," he said, via the Daily Mail. "I'd played in Greece before and knew the lifestyle would be great. And the standard of football is better than people think as well. It's given me a new lease of life."


Jay Bothroyd - Japan

Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

Now 36, one-time England international Jay Bothroyd has been playing overseas since 2014, as well as a spell much earlier in his career at Perugia in Italy.

After a year in Thailand with Muangthong United, the former Arsenal FA Youth Cup winner moved to Japan where he has become a roaring success.

Finishing the 2015 season as the J2 League's top scorer, Bothroyd helped Júbilo Iwata to promotion and a top half finish in the top flight the following season.

He has since moved to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo where he has continued to find the net.

"I would like to be the first English person to win some silverware in Japan, that would be a big achievement for me," he told the Guardian earlier this year. "I am happy, I’m the highest‑scoring British person in the J-League ever and Gary Lineker was here, so that’s an achievement," 


James Lawrence - Belgium

Born in Henley-on-Thames, James Lawrence has had an unusual route to top flight professional football.

The left-sided defender started in the youth academies of Arsenal (alongside Harry Kane) and QPR before his family moved to the Netherlands while he was still a teenager. After winning the Netherlands U19 First Division Championship with Ajax under the tutelage of Dennis Bergkamp, he took a chance on a move to Slovakia for his first taste of senior football with AS Trenčín.


There he won the Super Liga and Slovak Cup double twice on the spin between 2015 and 2016, before sealing a move to Belgian heavyweights Anderlecht aged 26 this summer.


"I've really benefited from playing and living abroad," he told the Daily Mail  at the end of his second double-winning season in Slovakia.

"I still have ambition to go back to England. I’d love to test myself and see how I have progressed."

Other Brits in Belgium include: Oscar Threlkeld (Waasland-Beveren)


 Liam Henderson - Italy

Struggling for minutes at Celtic under Brendan Rodgers - he had amassed just 29 Scottish Premiership games in four and a half seasons - Henderson went on trial with David Platt's former club Bari, before completing a surprise move to the south of Italy at the start of 2018.

Henderson, who had spent time on loan at Rosenborg previously, played 18 times in the second half of last season in Serie B, scoring twice.

While Bari went bankrupt and were demoted to Serie D at the end of the doomed 2017/18 campaign, the 22-year-old Scot stayed in Italy, finding a new contract at Hellas Verona.

The Livingston-born midfielder has made one appearance so far for his new side this season.

Other Brits in Italy include: Ronaldo Augusto Vieira (Sampdoria), Cy Goddard (Benevento), Harvey St Clair (Venezia)


George Saunders - Colombia

Another former Arsenal youth-teamer, George Saunders moved with his family from London to Spain at the age of eight, where he featured in the academies of Villarreal and Espanyol. 


His time at the latter earned him a call up to the Catalonia national youth team, where he played alongside Thiago Alcantara and Jordi Alba.

After rejection at senior level in Spain, Saunders went for a trial in Colombia and never looked back.

Now 29, the midfielder has spent five years in Colombia at the likes of America de Cali, Fortaleza and current club Envigado. There has even been talk of an international call up for his adopted country.

He told The Set Pieces: “I love everything about Colombia: the weather, the people, the food. I’m doing something I’ve always loved. Sometimes in life your destiny is written and I think I’m supposed to be here.” 

Saunders is currently the only British player playing professionally in South America. Although Leytonstone-born Colin Kazim-Richards - who represented Turkey at international level - played for Corinthians as recently as 2017.


John Bostock - France

Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Having made his Championship debut while still only 15, John Bostock was tipped for greatness in the early stages of his career.

The Londoner earned a move from first club Crystal Palace to Tottenham in 2008 and was expected to grow into one of England and the Premier League's top midfielders.

Things didn't quite work out as planned at Spurs however and Bostock's trajectory want somewhat wayward after five loan spells in as many years. He was released in 2013 and rather than drop down the English football pyramid, Bostock moved to Royal Antwerp in Belgium.

After registering 16 assists in his debut season, he signed for OH Leuven and then Lens of France, where he won Ligue 2 player of the year in 2017.

Bostock is now in France's top flight with Toulouse, playing four games out of five as his new side make a bright start to the season. 


Bradley Wright-Phillips - USA

Jam Media/GettyImages

Arguably the most successful British player outside Europe currently, the son of Ian Wright and younger brother Bradley Wright-Phillips has over 100 goals Major League Soccer, twice winning the US top flight's golden boot.

A product of Manchester City's youth system, he found moderate success at Southampton and Charlton before his career threatened to stall flitting between England's lower tiers.

However, since moving to New York Red Bulls in 2013, Wright-Phillips has become a bonafide MLS superstar, bagging a minimum of 16 goals in each of his five full seasons so far, while frequently outshining and outscoring much bigger names in the division.

After netting his 100th MLS goal in July, Wright-Phillips - who wears the squad number 99 - whipped off his shirt to reveal a specially prepared number 100 top.

Other Brits in the USA include: Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy), Wayne Rooney (DC United), Michael Mancienne (New England Revolution), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers), Danny Wilson (Colorado Rapids)

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