And it’s not all straw donkeys and fried breakfasts
The English footballer moving abroad is something of a rarity. Whether it is due to language, culture, or a more likely combination of both, our boys prefer to be home birds. After a spurt during the late eighties and early nineties, few high profile Brits have taken the plunge.
Today, OTP looks at ten of the current crop. Selections are made on curiosity, obscurity, weirdness and downright fame. The aim is to provide a bit of ‘I never knew that’ rather than a list of obvious choices, hence the David Beckham omission.
Oh, and it’s one player per country. Them be the rules:
10) Nicky Butt – Hong Kong
Butt had initially announced that he would retire after Newcastle United’s last game of the season at home to Ipswich Town, as club captain of the title winning side. He stayed true to this promise, but in November it was announced that he would play a game as a guest player for Hong Kong side South China. In the game Butt scored a free kick and missed a penalty, and immediately signed on a three month rolling contract.
Playing with Mateja Kezman for the club Butt has led the side to second in the Hong Kong Premier League, but was unfortunately sent off at the weekend in a game against Kitchee FC that was seen as a title decider.
Notable team mates: Mateja Kezman
9) Jordan Stewart – Greece
Stewart was a promising left-sided player at Leicester City, where he cored the first goal in the Walkers Stadium, and indeed Stewart made a series of appearances in the Premier League for the Foxes. He moved to Watford, Derby and Sheffield United, but the move to Skoda Xanthi was fairly unexpected.
Xanthi are currently sitting in mid table in the Greek Super League, but Stewart has made 13 league appearances, including away at giants Olympiakos. Still on the fringes, it remains unclear whether Stewart will remain in Greece for a second season.
Notable team mates: George Boateng, Marcelinho
8 ) Chris Greenacre – New Zealand
There has been a reasonable surge of players heading to Australia, the weather, women, and a lower standard of football obvious attraction to the English journeyman, but Chris Greenacre is one of a few players to have arrived in New Zealand.
It is not a compliment to the Australian A league that a player moving from Tranmere Rovers has managed to impress at Wellington Phoenix with both his work rate and goals, and his performances led the club to finish in the top six of the division, qualifying for the end of season playoffs.
Notable team mates: Paul Ifill
7) Kenny Pavey – Sweden
The first genuine no name on our list, although fans of Pro Evo may be reminded by his name.
After starting his career at Sittingbourne FC, Pavey came close to joining Aston Villa, but instead moved to Swedish second division side Ljungskile FC. He joined AIK Stockholm in 2005, where he has remained.
Pavey is a right back or right sided midfielder, and was voted Sweden’s dirtiest footballer, but he has gained success in Stockholm, winning two cups and the league title in 2009.
Notable team mates: Daniel Tjernstrom (Championship Manager legend) Nils-Eric Johansson (ex-Blackburn and Leicester defender)
6) John Curtis – Australia
We could have covered Robbie Fowler or Michael Bridges in this entry, but as Curtis has played for Manchester United and yet is much more low profile he deserves his place.
Curtis played for an impressive eleven clubs in England after leaving United, including short spells at Wrexham and Worcester City. After being released by Northampton Town he joined Gold Coast United (again not necessarily a glowing indictment of the league).
With Curtis, GCU managed to reach fourth place in the league and then got to the preliminary final in the end of season playoffs. Curtis made 19 appearances, and seems happily settled in Australia. Amazingly he is still only 32.
Notable team mates: Scott Higgins (Goalkeeper that played for Falkirk) and Joel Porter (once of Hartlepool United). Sorry, scraping the barrel!
5) Corrin Brooks-Meade – Cyprus
Brooks-Meade was a youth product of Fulham, who was loaned out to Darlington and AFC Wimbledon, unfortunately suffering a medial knee ligament injury at the latter.
After being released by Fulham, where he was no higher than fourth choice goalkeeper, he made the rather odd move to Cypriot First division side Alki Larnaca, who had just been promoted from the second division. Brooks-Meade’s appearances have been limited however, and it remains to be seen whether the 22 year old remains on the holiday isle.
Notable team mates: Guillaume Brenner (he’s played for Togo??), Robbie Gibbons (was a youth at Nottingham Forest?) Christian Nade (Ex-Sheffield United and Hearts)
4) Antonio Pedroza – Mexico
Now I love my football, and count myself as more obsessive than most, but I would give a small amount of money to anyone who has heard of Antonio Pedroza, outside of this list and his close friends and family.
Born in Chester to Mexican parents, Pedroza moved to Mexico at a young age and has played all of his short career at Jaguares, a Primera Ligue club in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. A striker, Pedroza is currently going through the process of gaining Mexican nationalisation. Not sure Capello is too alarmed.
Notable team mates: None. Not one. Sorry.
3) Terry Cooke – Azerbaijan
Terry Cooke is perhaps best known in his career for directly joining Manchester City from Manchester United, for a sum of £1million. Cooke also made four appearances for the England U21 team, but soon dropped down the leagues.
A spell training with Nottingham Forest was sandwiched by playing in America and Australia, but last Summer Cooke joined Gabala FC of Azerbaijan, managed by Tony Adams.
The 34 year old winger played 12 games during the season, but Gabala missed out on the end of season playoffs.
Notable team mates: Deon Burton, Collins John, Al Bangoura
2) Matthew Jones – Portugal
Between the ages of 17 and 19 Jones was on the books of West Bromwich Albion, but made only reserve appearances.
He moved to the USA after being released, and found a great deal of success within the University football system. After leaving college, he signed for the Western Mass Pioneers.
He has since become first choice goalkeeper at Portuguese side Santa Clara. Although Santa Clara were aiming to gain promotion to the Primeira Liga, they have failed to match this aspirations in both of the years Jones has remained at the club.
Notable team mates: Pauleta used to play for them, is that enough?
1) Lee Hendrie – Indonesia
Quite frankly the most bonkers appearance on our list. A bright young thing in English football (Lee Hendrie has played for England, lest you forget) Hendrie’s career nosedived as soon as he left Aston Villa.
Incredibly for a player that made over 250 Premier League games, Hendrie has now completely gone off the radar, and recently signed a deal to play for Badung FC in the Liga Premier in Indonesia.
Bandung FC are based in the capital West Java and are hanging around mid table in the league. It is a strange choice to say the least, especially as Hendrie has signed a two year contract. Seven game sinto his Indonesian adventure, it would be a brave man that put money on him seeing out the 24 months.
Notable team mates: Are you joking?