From Sancho to McInally: The Brits Who Have Taken Over the Bundesliga


The British Influx in German Football

British footballers have often stayed within the realms of the UK game for decades. From the England World Cup winners of 1966 all coming from English sides, to the stars down the years like Ryan Giggs and Ally McCoist spending their illustrious days on their front doorstep.

There has been the odd Brit who has moved across Europe to test the waters of German football, however, with 70s stars like Kevin Keegan and modern greats such as Jadon Sancho doing so in sensational style.

Here, we take a look back on the famous men from the British shores who have taken the Bundesliga by storm and cemented their place in history with the famous German outfits.

From the rising stars like Ademola Lookman at RB Leipzig, to the wonderful Bayern Munich career of Owen Hargreaves - here are the 11 men who have done it best throughout the ages and the decades of German football, in no particular order.

Alan McInally

Alan McInally had a magnificent spell with Bayern, despite having much of his time with the club cursed with injuries. In total, Bayern's favourite Scot would score 14 times in 56 appearances and would help the club to win the Bundesliga and German Super Cup in a three-year spell.

The forward has spoke of how his time in Germany remains unrivalled to any other as "the bar was raised" when he played amongst the best in Europe.

McInally recently sat down with Footy Accums to talk about his time at Bayern.

Kevin Keegan

Keegan was the first Englishman to set on the Bundesliga stage and 16 more have since followed. Following a move from Liverpool, the Englishman would quickly become one of the world's very best over in Germany, finishing second in the Ballon d'Or charts in his first season with Hamburg.

However, the striker's 28 goals over the next two campaigns would earn him the prestigious Ballon d'Or in back-to-back seasons and help Hamburg to a Bundesliga title.

Keegan's two individual awards mean he is one of just four English players to win the famous trophy as the best player in the world, and he remains the only British player to win the award with an overseas club.

Whilst other players on this list boast more trophies, from an individual point of view, the former England superstar did it better than anybody else.

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes is more known for his legendary days with Manchester United than anything else, but within his glamourous CV lies a short loan stint at Bayern.

A topsy-turvy spell at Barcelona forced the loan move to Germany, where the attacker would regain his form to catch the eye of United once more. Hughes bagged six goals from 18 Bundesliga appearances back in 1987/88, as Bayern missed out on the title to Werder Bremen by just four points.

However, considering the Bavarians finished on the same points as third-placed FC Koln, Hughes' six goals turned out to be quite vital in finishing second, with their superior goal difference the only aspect keeping them adrift.

Jadon Sancho

The man who is currently on top of German football. The star who has changed the way we look at English youth. Jadon Sancho's efforts in England's U17 World Cup win and Manchester City's academy caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund back in 2017.

The German club realised his chances would be numbered at the Etihad, and saw something special in him. Now, Sancho isn't just one of Europe's brightest youngsters, but one of the world's very best forwards.

This season alone, the Englishman has been involved in more goals than anybody in the entire Bundesliga, registering 14 goals and 15 assists, topping Robert Lewandowski's 28 goal involvements. Last campaign, Sancho claimed the Bundesliga assist king title, with 14 assists from 26 starts, whilst also bagging 12 goals in the process.

The sky is the limit for this 20-year-old and he is living proof how moving to German football is near perfect for young English stars to grow.

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Paul Lambert

Most of us these days will know Paul Lambert as the manager who helped Norwich City to promotion to the Premier League.

However, we must not forget that Lambert has a Champions League winners medal after helping Borussia Dortmund to Europe's crown back in 1996/97. Lambert and co. would beat Juventus in the final and claim what is still the German giants' sole Champions League triumph.

The Scot would move back to his home country a season later and become a serial winner with Celtic. However, getting to the pinnacle of European football with Dortmund remains his most prestigious award and he will forever be regarded as one of the club's favourite Brits because of it.

Reiss Nelson

Riess Nelson has turned into somewhat of an enigma of English football over recent years. The Arsenal man guided the Gunners' U23s to the Premier League 2 title and claimed the Player of the Year that campaign as well.

However, Unai Emery would force Nelson out on loan to Hoffenheim, much to the anger of Arsenal fans, after such a fabulous year in the youth ranks. In the season of 2018/19, the 20-year-old would score seven times in 23 Bundesliga outings and at one stage even reach the numbers of the now Bundesliga great, Sancho.

An exceptional start to life in Germany began to slow down for Nelson towards the end of the year, but his early days at Hoffenheim can't be overlooked as he continues to grow. So far, the Englishman's Rookie of the Month award in the Bundesliga remains his only real feat in senior football, having made just 11 starts in the Premier League ever since.

Perhaps Nelson should consider moving back.

Owen Hargreaves

For those who have represented a British nation and played in Germany, Owen Hargreaves has without question the most famous CV. The former Bayern Munich star left Canada at 16 to join the ranks of the gargantuan German side and would establish himself as one of Europe's finest players in the process.

From Hargreaves' 218 appearances with Bayern, the England international won four Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokal trophies, a DFB-Ligapokal, an Intercontinental Cup and a Champions League title.

A move to Manchester United would follow where his infamous injury troubles would sadly continue. However, Hargreaves' time with Bayern remains the most dominant display from a Brit in the German top-flight, winning 10 trophies in seven years.

The midfielder would also win the Bravo Award in 2001 at Bayern, which was handed out to the most outstanding young European footballer by Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo. Later, Hargreaves won England's Player of the Year in 2006, beating countless English stars to the award for his efforts with the German giants that season.

Murdo MacLeod

From the eight Scots who have played in the Bundesliga, Murdo MacLeod played the most games by some considerable margin. MacLeod called time on 10 magical years with Celtic to move to Dortmund, where the Glaswegian would play 129 times for the famous Black and Yellow strip in Germany.

The defender would bag five goals and be a regular at the back for Dortmund over three seasons, helping the club to a German Cup and a German Super Cup.

From 103 Bundesliga appearances, MacLeod is the all-time record holder for a Scot within the German top-flight, although, a fourth-place finish was as good as it got for the former Celtic hero with Dortmund in the league.

Jonjoe Kenny

Jonjoe Kenny has struggled to make an impact at Everton for a number of years, making more appearances for Schalke 04 before February, than he has done in his entire career with his boyhood club.

The right-back must be grinning each day over in Germany, however, as the regular in his position, Seamus Coleman, continues his downfall, whilst Djibril Sidibe fails to stake a claim also.

Kenny is experiencing his third loan move away from Goodison Park, but once again, a Bundesliga side are showing how investing time in English youth is vital and worthwhile.

The Liverpool-born has won the Rookie of the Month in Germany already, whilst being nominated for the award on other occasions as well. Currently still at Schalke, the Bundesliga outfit may consider buying him after eight months of impressing the club, and recording three assists and one goal.

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Tony Woodcock

"I want him. No matter the cost," said the then FC Koln boss Hennes Weisweiler when seeking the signature of Tony Woodcock.

A European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest, he would join Koln at a time when other Englishmen like Keegan and Dave Watson were over in Germany. And, despite Keegan's back-to-back Ballon d'Or wins, it was Woodcock who took over the goalscoring charts for an Englishman in Germany.

The striker bagged 39 goals in 131 appearances in the Bundesliga for Koln, which remains the most by a man from the shores of Britain to this day. In total, Woodcock would slot home 47 goals for the club, although, no trophies would follow.

However, as goalscorers go, the former England international is as good as it has got. Although, Sancho is right on his heels in the modern era.

Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman burst onto the scene with Everton in stunning fashion when he scored in the 4-0 demolition over Pep Guardiola's City back in 2016/17, just ten days after signing from Charlton Athletic.

However, a loan move would follow just a year later to RB Leipzig after the German club saw something special in him that the Toffees failed to capitalise on. Lookman would become something special with them indeed, bagging the winner against Borussia Monchengladbach on his debut as a late substitute.

Four more goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances would follow in 2018, and put Lookman back on the map as one of England's brightest young stars. Although a permanent move to the Bundesliga title challengers would follow, the 22-year-old has since made just eight appearances across the board, failing to score a single goal.

If Lookman can capture this form that forced the permanent move to Leipzig, he may become something very special for the German outfit once again.

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