Last week, Borussia Mönchengladbach captured the imagination of many English fans of German football by signing Mandela Egbo from Crystal Palace. Egbo will play for Borussia’s second string – sensible, as he’s only seventeen – but having been highly rated at Palace and been involved with the England youth set-up, there’s every chance he could go on to forging out an excellent career under the guidance of Max Eberl and Lucien Favre. England also have one further presence in Germany, Danny Collinge, also seventeen, who plies his trade in the youth ranks of VfB Stuttgart.
For the past few years, English fans have only really had the likes of Aaron Hunt and Lewis Holtby to pin their hopes to – German born players with one English parent – but that could, of course, change with the likes of Egbo and Collinge. However, what of the players who’ve paved the way for the young duo to succeed? Who are the best and the worst English players to take their career to Germany?
Arguably England’s most famous footballing expert to Germany, Kevin Keegan joined Hamburger SV for £500,000 in the summer of 1977, enjoying a wildly successful (and financially lucrative) three years in the Bundesliga before a return to British shores.
Keegan’s iconic spell in Hamburg is quite often linked with the Beatles’ time in the German port, and it’s easy to see why. Obviously, John Lennon and the lads didn’t win two Ballon d’Ors in Hamburg, but both Keegan and the Beatles initially went to Hamburg in search of greater fame and fortune, leaving from Liverpool and eventually having very successful spells in the city. Where the Beatles played several shows, honing their craft, Keegan, who had already been at the top of the game for some time since making his England debut in 1972, enjoyed a Bundesliga title in Hamburg in 1979 – HSV’s first ever Bundesliga win – as well as reaching the European Cup final in 1980, eventually losing to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest.
Upon returning to England in 1980 with Southampton, Keegan was one of the most marketable stars in the world, with pop singles under his belt and the nickname Mighty Mouse. Keegan, though, isn’t the only Englishman to have had a crack at the German Bundesliga over the years.
At the same time as Keegan’s frolics in Hamburg, fellow English international Dave Watson had also made a switch to Northern Germany. In this case, it was a trade of the blue half of Manchester in favour of Werder Bremen, Hamburger SV’s great rivals.
The spell was rather ill-fated. Joining in 1979, Watson played twice – in a win over Uerdingen and a huge loss away to 1860 München, in which he was sent off. Watson was banned by the DFB for two months for his conduct and eventually returned to England before the years was out, moving to Keegan’s future club, Southampton. Hardly the most successful spell in German football history.
Thankfully, Watson didn’t sour Anglo-German relations too much. In October 1979, the same month that Watson was sent in disgrace to the South Coast, Tony Woodcock, a European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and England international went in the other direction, joining the Bundesliga’s first ever Champions, 1.FC Köln.
It would be the first of two spells in Köln for Woodcock who briefly returned to England for four years after the 1982 World Cup, in which he played, for Arsenal. In his first spell in Germany, Woodcock helped Köln to the German Cup final in 1980, the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1981, and second place in the Bundesliga in 1982. His second spell wasn’t quite so illustrious, but with 39 goals in 131 games for the club over both, Woodcock secured his place as a club legend, and is still often involved in the club to this day.
He eventually finished his career at local rivals Fortuna Köln, before managing Fortuna, SC Brück and VfB Leipzig in the early nineties and working as Sporting Director for Eintracht Frankfurt between 2001 and 2002. If not the most successful, Woodcock is certainly the longest-serving football expert of England to Germany.
A player to build his reputation solely in Germany, moving from the English third tier to the German third tier in 1980 and eventually making it to the Bundesliga, Peter Hobday spent seven years, at the likes of Schloss Neuhaus (who would later come to form SC Paderborn in a merger), Stuttgarter Kickers and Hannover 96 before he made his Bundesliga debut.
Having impressed in his first Bundesliga season with Hannover, Hobday moved to DFB-Pokal winners Eintracht Frankfurt, on the one hand enjoying a foray into European football but on the other, only just scraping survival in the Bundesliga. A car crash at the start of his second season with Frankfurt unfortunately meant that Hobday had to take a break from the game, eventually returning to his first team, who’d by now been renamed TuS Paderborn Neuhaus, in 1993. Eventually, though, Hobday rebuilt his career, eventually winning promotion back to the Bundesliga with Arminia Bielefeld in 1996.
Liverpool-born striker Mark Farrington was somewhat of a journeyman during the late 1980s and early 1990s, moving around the Benelux with the likes of Willem II, Fortuna Sittard, Feyenoord and RC Genk. In between his spells at Sittard and Feyenoord, though, Farrington actually had a brief crack at the German Bundesliga with capital city club Hertha BSC. It wasn’t the best time of his career.
Though Hertha were newly promoted and were sitting at rock-bottom in the Bundesliga, Farrington wasn’t able to properly assert himself as a starting player at the club, eventually playing just nine games in six months, without scoring, before leaving the club in the winter for Feyenoord.
Considering Hargreaves moved to Germany from Canada at the age of sixteen, it might seem odd to consider Hargreaves an English export to Germany. However, given that he went on to play some 42 times for England, winning England’s player of the year award in 2006 after an excellent World Cup on German soil, he definitely is one.
In his first full professional season with Bayern, in 2000/2001, Hargreaves won the Bundesliga and started in the Champions League final, becoming only the second English player to win the Champions League with a foreign club. Soon, he was a first team regular – despite having just turned twenty, and the wealth of choice in Bayern’s midfield – and in total, the England midfielder won the German title four times and the Pokal three times, making him the Englishman to have won the most silverware for a German club.
Of course, Hargreaves’ later career would go on to be riddled with injuries and some of these problems started in Germany, with a broken leg sustained shortly after the 2006 World Cup supposedly creating some of the knee problems with troubled his later spells at Manchester United and Manchester City.
On his day, though, Hargreaves was one of the Bundesliga’s finest midfielders during his spell at Bayern, and he now presents coverage of the league in both England and Germany, with BT Sport and Sky Deutschland. Not a bad export, after all.
If there were any Hamburg fans who’d sat with bated breath waiting for Kevin Keegan’s heir to the throne, they might have been excited to see Michael Mancienne, a former Chelsea defender and one-time England call-up, for a friendly with Germany no less, join the club in 2011.
In reality, Mancienne’s signing was just part of Frank Arnesen’s insane policy of signing his ex-Chelsea youngsters, having left the London club for Hamburg in the summer of 2011. Mancienne was joined by Jacopo Sala, Slobodan Rajkovic and Gökhan Töre in Hamburg, and a farce which still runs to this day began.
In Mancienne’s first season, HSV finished fifteenth, a shockingly poor return for a team who’d played every season of the Bundesliga since its inception in 1963. The former Chelsea youth did, however, notably improve as a player while in Germany, stating that he enjoyed the tactical emphasis of the German game compared to in England. His best season was arguably his sophomore year, in which he played 21 times and helped guide HSV to a seventh placed finish.
Over three years, Mancienne made 49 appearances for the club, but he was frozen out towards the end of his spell at HSV having not impressed at the beginning of the 13/14 season. He’s back in England now, rebuilding his career at Nottingham Forest, but he didn’t do particularly much in helping convince other young Englishmen to head over to Germany.
A contemporary of Mancienne, the highly-touted Tranmere youngster somehow played his way into Bayern München’s plans following some great performances in League One. Jennings was just 18 at the time of the move, and his signing was initially for Bayern II, but the thoughts of an English youngster at the biggest German club was nonetheless impressive.
Fast forward two years and it hadn’t worked out for club or player. Jennings was back in England with Barnsley, having endured an injury-stricken two years for Bayern’s second side, eventually scoring just twice in 36 appearances for Bayern II.
Not the best export ever, but let’s hope Mandela Egbo, and VfB Stuttgart’s Danny Collinge, can do better for their respective clubs.[separator type=”thin”]
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Three talking points as Tottenham secured top spot with a Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund
Tottenham ensured that they progressed to the Champions League knock-out stages as Group H winners after coming from behind to see off Borussia Dortmund in Germany on Tuesday night.
Dortmund – who were reliant on Real Madrid dropping points at Cypriot minnows APOEL Nicosia in the evening’s other fixture to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16 – took the early advantage when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished smartly from Andriy Yarmolenko’s clever flick.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side nearly crafted an equaliser before the break, only for both Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier to be denied in the space of a few minutes after superb work by ‘keeper Roman Burki.
But it didn’t take long for the visitors to draw level in the second-half, with Harry Kane afforded too much space on the edge of the box as he arrowed an effort into the corner with his first real chance.
Son Heung-min’s effort 15 minutes from time, a fine curling finish after tenacious work from Dele Alli, then sealed the turnaround and condemned the hosts to a shock early Champions League exit.
Tottenham bounce back after derby disappointment
After Saturday’s harrowing and disappointing defeat to old foes Arsenal, manager Mauricio Pochettino summed up Tuesday’s performance perfectly by labelling it as the ‘perfect reaction’.
It is hard to disagree with the Argentinian either, with his side displaying far more grit, determination and character at the Westfalenstadion to forget about their Premier League defeat and come from behind to beat a strong Borussia Dortmund outfit, securing their surprise status as Group H winners.
It seemed like they were suffering a North London derby hangover of sorts when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired the hosts in front on the half-hour mark, but Spurs dug deep and showed that they are aiming to do more than just make up the numbers in the Champions League this campaign.
All of a sudden they burst into life after the break, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli – who were both anonymous at the Gunners – getting involved more and causing problems for a tiring home defence.
It was the former who levelled things up when Kane’s neat low drive found the back of the net, signalling his sixth Champions League goal in five appearances this season, whilst Alli was influential in assisting both goals, seeing off two Dortmund defenders before laying off to Son Heung-min for his winner.
It wasn’t a match that needed to be won, considering Tottenham had already secured their safe passage into the knock-out stages, but the manner of victory will no doubt send out a message across Europe.
Dortmund’s decline ends in Champions League exit
Yet, whilst Tottenham will be buoyant and nervously await the draw for the last 16 next month, Borussia Dortmund will be reflecting on where things went wrong after a dismal European outing this season.
Despite having a number of world-class individuals in their ranks – Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa, the young Christian Pulisic, Mario Gotze and the injured Marco Reus are all part of the squad at the disposal of manager Peter Bosz – it’s been a stuttering season both in Europe and domestically too.
Their inability to beat Cypriot minnows APOEL Nicosia across two matches all-but put an end to any aspirations of knock-out football, and it seems that the Europa League will now be their next destination.
Add this to their woeful Bundesliga form of late, losing four of their last five matches and drawing the other one to leave them nine points adrift of the top of the table, and warning signs are now flashing.
It’s all a stark contrast to 2013, the year that the German side fell narrowly short in the Champions League final, and it’s clear for all to see that something is fundamentally not right just four years on.
The fact that Aubameyang – who was left out of the Dortmund squad for their Bundesliga defeat at Stuttgart last week after being sanctioned by Bosz – barely celebrated a sublime goal tells its own story of the club’s affairs, and it seems that the head coach could be walking on a very fine tightrope.
Pochettino’s conundrum after Aurier impresses
One thing that was clear from Pochettino’s team selection on Tuesday, other than the clear fact that he was looking for a quick response to the Arsenal defeat by selecting a strong side, was that summer signing Serge Aurier seems to be the preferred right-back option for the Champions League this season.
The £24 million man may have garnered a reputation for being a bit erratic but, contrary to some of his rash moments this season, he played with an element of maturity and care on Tuesday evening.
He certainly warranted his selection at Dortmund, always offering an outlet on the right-wing and constantly finding himself with a wealth of space to run into behind their captain Marcel Schmelzer.
Aurier’s delivery was generally accurate too, forcing the Dortmund defence into last-ditch blocks inside their own area with Kane lurking, whilst he kept things compact alongside Davinson Sanchez at the back.
It would no doubt have hurt the Ivorian to have been omitted from the side for the mightily impressive win over Real Madrid after playing in Tottenham’s opening three European matches, but on Tuesday’s showing he’s laid down a marker for rival Kieran Trippier ahead of the knock-out stages.
Considering the question marks hanging over the head of boss Pochettino about whether Kyle Walker could be replaced it’s certainly not a bad dilemma to have, and a bit of healthy competition between two viable wide options could prove key for Tottenham as the season goes on.
Analysing Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s two-goal heroics against Borussia Dortmund
Much had been written about Harry Kane’s barren August, in which he failed to score. However, the drought is well and truly over now September has arrived. Since finding the net for England during the international break, the 24-year-old has rediscovered his scoring boots in spectacular fashion.
His brace against Borussia Dortmund in Tottenham Hotspur’s opening Champions League Group H clash was as impressive as it was timely, providing his side with the perfect start to their European adventure and banishing the Wembley Stadium hoodoo.
It’s no secret that Tottenham are heavily reliant on Kane (perhaps overly so) to be their chief attacking threat, but he rarely lets them down. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be relieved that his star man is back to his best.
The England striker had a hand in all three of their goals against Dortmund, setting up Son Heung-min for the first before netting either side of half-time to ensure Spurs sent home their supporters happy.
Both goals underlined Kane’s natural ability as a finisher, which has earned him the Premier League’s Golden Boot trophy in the previous two seasons. His first was a carbon copy of Son’s, cutting in from the left and unleashing a rasping drive that beat Roman Burki at his near post.
Perhaps the Dortmund keeper’s positioning was questionable, but such was the power and pinpoint accuracy of Kane’s strike that it would have taken some stopping wherever he had been stationed.
Although Dortmund looked vulnerable at the back, their attacking prowess had caused Spurs problems all night and a 2-1 lead seemed precarious. So Kane’s second of the night was mightily important because it effectively killed off the game.
After being put through by Cristian Eriksen, Kane still had work to do to create enough space to get his shot away. Once again, the accuracy was such that it left Burki with little chance of preventing it from nestling in the back of the net.
Kane could have completed his hat-trick before he was substituted to a rapturous reception from the Wembley faithful, but the damage had been done. Everyone knows Kane likes to shoot from all areas of the pitch, but opponents seem powerless to stop him.
His two goals from four efforts – as well as an assist – represented an excellent night’s work for a man who has grown in stature to become one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. Kane will remain fundamental to Spurs’ hopes of honours this season, both domestically and in Europe.
“The Wembley curse is over” – Three things learnt from Tottenham 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Tottenham may face a tough Champions League group including Real Madrid and APOEL alongside Borussia Dortmund, but they could not have gotten off to a better start than with a 3-1 home victory over the Germans.
Son Heung-Min raced clear in the opening minutes to give Mauricio Pochettino’s side the lead, but that lead was quickly pegged back after Andriy Yarmolenko looped an effort over Hugo Lloris and into the corner of the net.
That sparked Harry Kane to life, shrugging off two challenges before firing the ball into the back of the net for a third goal inside 15 minutes. After that the game calmed down as Kane’s second goal midway through the second half put the tie to bed.
A late sending off for Jan Vertonghen, who saw a second yellow for a flailing arm, marred things slightly but Spurs still got off to a dream start at Wembley on Wednesday night.
Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game…
The Wembley curse is over
The tag of a Wembley curse has dogged Tottenham at the start of this season, not helped by defeat to Chelsea and a draw with Burnley, but there is no more emphatic way to put an end to such concerns than by wiping the floor with a difficult Champions League opponent.
Tottenham got off to a dream start through Son Heung-Min and even after conceding an equaliser they reacted well to rapidly re-take the lead. Such a win will give a huge confidence boost and Spurs fans will hope that it will remove any Wembley hoodoo too.
Dortmund continue to disappoint
Gone are the days when Borussia Dortmund were a force to be reckoned with in Europe under Jurgen Klopp, but their performances at Europe’s most elite level have been underwhelming for some time. At Wembley, they once again failed to deceive.
For all their possession and time on the ball in the Tottenham half, they failed to create many clear cut chances, with even their goal coming courtesy of an inspired strike from distance. Defensively they were poor too, with Tottenham scything the back four apart on the counter attack. Mauricio Pochettino will be confident of qualifying from a tough group on the back of that display.
Fernando Llorente offers an entirely different option
He may only have got a few minutes, but right from the off it was clear that the Spaniard’s introduction for Harry Kane would give Tottenham a different dimension in attack. Spurs immediately went for a more direct style with Llorente giving a real focal point in attack.
It’s likely that Llorente will have to wait until the Carabao Cup clash with Barnsley next week for his first start in Tottenham colours, but such aerial presence and power could come in handy against sides like his former team Swansea, who his new club face this weekend.
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