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Brief history of British players in Spain

BT Sport, Football, pic: circa 1980, Spanish League, Real Madrid 3, v Barcelona 2, Laurie Cunningham, Real Madrid poised to cross the ball, Laurie Cunningham (1956-1989) played in Spain for Real Madrid, 1979 - 1983, sadly killed in a car crash in 1989
BT Sport, Football, pic: circa 1980, Spanish League, Real Madrid 3, v Barcelona 2, Laurie Cunningham, Real Madrid poised to cross the ball, Laurie Cunningham (1956-1989) played in Spain for Real Madrid, 1979 - 1983, sadly killed in a car crash in 1989
Ishen Perumal
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 25 Jul 2018
Top 5 / Top 10
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With Cristiano Ronaldo completing a sensational move to Italian giants Juventus, there is now a huge 50-goal-a-season vacuum to be filled in Real Madrid’s attack, and with Julian Lopetogui spearheading a new beginning for Los Blancos, Gareth Bale will be the main man to lead the attack.

The Welshman has shown what he is capable of over the past few seasons, the highlight being THAT overhead kick against Liverpool in the Champions League final, and who can forget his marauding run past Marc Bartra in the Copa del Rey final, but injuries have prevented him from making consistent meaningful impact over the course of a season. This is now his opportunity, and he is certainly capable of doing so.

Gareth Bale is not the first British player to play on Spanish soil. That record belongs to Laurie Cunningham who joined Real Madrid in 1979. He was the first black player to represent England professionally and memorably received a standing ovation against Barcelona at the Camp Nou - from the home fans! A proper legend, Cunningham flourished in Real at a time when racism was rampant in the game in Britain. He also spent time at Sporting Gijon and Rayo Vallecano, where he helped them to promotion from Liga Segunda.

Since then several others have made the trip to Spain, with some doing better than others. Here’s a look at some of the most successful British players who spent some of their career in Spain.

#1 Gary Lineker (Barcelona - 1986-1989)

Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker

Making a living as a pundit for BT Sport these days, Gary Lineker spent 3 seasons at Barcelona during his prime, making the move from Everton after winning the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

He scored 42 goals in 103 appearances over 3 seasons for the Catalan giants. In his first season, he bagged 21 goals in 41 games, which included a hat-trick in a 3-2 win against arch-rivals Real Madrid, one that will remain in the memory of Barcelona fans forever. He helped them to the Copa del Rey in 1988 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1989.

Mark Hughes was signed in the same window from Man United, although he lasted only one less-than-impressive season there.

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Published 25 Jul 2018, 15:22 IST
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