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Champions League Final: Germany, Madrid and Brits abroad – a European Cup love affair

Who are the seven Brits who have played for overseas clubs trying to land Europe's biggest prize?

The Uefa Champions League football trophy

History will be made when Real Madrid and Dortmund face-off at Wembley on Saturday evening, not least that another Brit abroad will lift the famous old trophy.

How and where to watch the Champions League Final

Since it was introduced in 1956, only seven Britons have represented overseas clubs in the final of Europe’s premier club competition, and only three of them were born in England.

Jude Bellingham from Stourbridge and Jadon Sancho, born in Camberwell, were once teammates with Dortmund and England, but they will be going head to head for a piece of history under the arch on Saturday night.

Sancho’s Dortmund teammate Jamie Bynoe-Gittens is another hoping to etch his name into folklore.

The Reading-born England under-21 winger came off the bench in both legs of Dortmund’s quarter-final win over Atletico Madid and scored one and set up another in the group stage win in Milan.

Those three might not be aware, but it’s fair to say Brits have enjoyed mixed fortunes down the years representing overseas clubs in European football’s showpiece, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?


Kevin Keegan – Hamburg – 1980

Keegan made his name at Scunthorpe but it was at Liverpool where he became one of the best players in the world.

His final Reds appearance saw him lift the 1977 European Cup after a 1-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome.

He had already agreed a move to Hamburg and won the Ballon d’Or in his first two seasons in the Bundesliga.

In his third Hamburg reached the European Cup Final in Madrid, where they faced Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, who triumphed 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Laurie Cunningham – Real Madrid – 1981

The Archway boy blazed an incredible footballing trail through the 1970s and 80s.

The tricky left-winger came through the ranks at Leyton Orient, earning a 1977 move to West Brom, who sold him after two years to Real Madrid. Cunningham became the first Brit to sign for the club, for a then club record fee of £950,000.

He scored twice on his debut and won the double in his first season but he was rushed back from a long-term injury to play in the European Cup Final against Liverpool in Paris in 1981 and endured a game to forget as the Reds edged a 1-0 win.

Cunningham had spells at Marseille and Rayo Vallecano after leaving the Bernabeu and had a short but successful spell with Wimbledon, beating Liverpool to win the 1988 FA Cup, but after returning to Vallecano he died in a car crash in Madrid the following year aged just 33.


Steve Archibald – Barcelona – 1986

The Scottish striker was sold by Tottenham to the Catalan giants in 1984 and was part of Terry Venables’ side which reached the 1986 European Cup Final against Romanians Steaua Bucharest in Seville.

It was a night, and in truth a final to forget, as the game finished 0-0 after 90 minutes and extra-time with the Romanians winning 2-0 on penalties.

Archibald was subbed in extra-time and had to watch all four Barca penalties saved by Steaua keeper Helmuth Duckadam.

Chris Waddle – Marseille – 1991

Another former star which Spurs sold to the continent to raise much-needed cash.

Waddle made the switch to Ligue Un in 1989 for a British record £4.5m and wowed the fans with his wizardry on the wing, one of the first left-footers to operate on the right flank.

He was a large part of L’OM’s march to the 1991 European Cup Final in Bari, Italy, but could not help his side avoid another stalemate in the showpiece after 90 minutes and extra-time.

Unlike in the World Cup semi-final on Italian soil less than 12 months previously, he didn’t take a spot-kick, but saw his side beaten 5-3 on penalties nevertheless.

Paul Lambert – Dortmund – 1997

Paul Lambert made nearly 600 appearances in a 20-year playing career – all of those bar 44 came in Scotland.

Those 44 came in the fluorescent shirt of Borussia Dortmund, whom he joined on a Bosman after his contract at Motherwell ended, having impressed on a pre-season trial.

After seeing-off Man United in the semi-final, Lambert put in a man of the match display in the final against Juventus in Munich, keeping Zinedine Zidane quiet in midfield and setting up the opening goal for Karl-Heinz Riedle as Dortmund won 3-1.

Lambert became the first Brit to win the tournament with an overseas team and the first to win the rebranded Champions League.


Owen Hargreaves – Bayern Munich – 2001

There might be a slight asterisk next to this one. The Canadian-born midfielder with an English dad was just 20 when he helped Munich overcome Valencia on penalties at the San Siro to win the Champions League in 2001.

He had yet to win an England call-up but his 120-minute display helped cement him as part of Sven Goran Eriksson’s plans.

Hargreaves went on to play, and score in the shootout, as he won his second title, helping Man United beat Chelsea in Moscow in 2008.

Steve McManaman – Real Madrid – 2000 and 2002

The first British Galactico, McManaman signed for Madrid on a five-year deal after his Liverpool contract came to an end.

The tricky wide-man shone as Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 in Paris to win the 2000 title, scoring the second goal and becoming the first, and until Saturday only, English-born player to win the continental cup for a non-UK team.

He added his second crown two years later, coming off the bench as Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Gareth Bale – Real Madrid – 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022

No player has ever won six European Cups, but Gareth Bale picked up five during his glorious nine-year stay at Real Madrid – a record which you’d expect Jude Bellingham will be only too aware of.

In his first final, after Sergio Ramos forced extra-time against city rivals Atletico with an injury-time equaliser in Lisbon in the 2014 final, Bale put Real ahead in extra-time on their way to a 4-1 win.

The two teams met in Milan two years later and this time needed penalties to separate them after a 1-1 draw, with Bale converting from the spot in a 5-3 win for Real.

The Welshman then came off the bench as Madrid defended their title with a 4-1 win against Juventus in his home city of Cardiff the following season and did so again in Kyiv in 2018 as Real faced Liverpool.

Madrid had been pegged back by Sadio Mane’s goal six minutes before his introduction but it took Bale just two minutes to score one of the most memorable goals in European Cup history, producing an acrobatic overhead kick from Marcelo’s cross to put Madrid ahead, and then made the game safe late-on with a swerving long-range shot which deceived Lorius Karius.

Bale was an unused sub as Madrid again overcame Liverpool to win the 2022 final 1-0 in Paris, though he still picked up his fifth medal.

Surely a record never to be broken? Right, Jude?

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.