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HomeFive of the BestKane next? Six British players who shone in the Bundesliga

Kane next? Six British players who shone in the Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is one of European football’s most fascinating competitions and could have a marquee import this summer amid Bayern Munich’s bid to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham.

Kane has been subject of an approach from the German champions and could become the latest British name to test himself in the Bundesliga, as the England captain looks to win major trophies.

Here are the six British players who made the biggest impact in the Bundesliga.


Kevin Keegan

Kevin Keegan had cemented himself as a star during six seasons at Liverpool, where he won three league titles and was named as runner-up for the Ballon d’Or after the club’s first European Cup victory in 1977.

The England international, however, was keen on a new challenge and the opportunity to join the Hamburg saw Keegan head to the Bundesliga in a German record deal that same year.

Hamburg – who had never previously won the Bundesliga – had received heavy investment from Japanese manufacturing firm Hitachi and their new found wealth saw Keegan attracted to Germany, where he further established himself as one of the best players in Europe and as a firm fans’ favourite.

During three seasons with the club Keegan helped Hamburg to two Bundesliga titles and the final of the European Cup, while he was named as winner of the Ballon d’Or in consecutive years in 1978 and 1979 – becoming the first and so far only English player to be named as Europe’s finest on multiple occasions.

Christened Mächtig Maus (Mighty Mouse) by the adoring Hamburg fans, Keegan’s arrival proved the catalyst behind awakening a sleeping giant of German football and he remains one of the club’s greatest ever players.

He returned to English football with Southampton in 1980 having scored 40 goals in 113 appearances.

Tony Woodcock

Woodcock came through the academy ranks at Nottingham Forest before playing a key part in a golden period for Brian Clough’s side, winning a league title, League Cup and European Cup under the legendary manager’s guidance and the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 1978.

The forward’s performances during Forest’s to European success attracted the interest of German side Cologne, who had been eliminated by the East Midlands outfit at the semi-final stage.

Woodcock moved to the Bundesliga in a £600,000 deal and quickly made an impression on the home support, scoring 28 goals in 81 appearances and forming a fine understanding with Dieter Mueller in attack.

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Silverware would agonisingly prove elusive for the England international, however, as Cologne finished as runners-up in both the Bundesliga and German Cup during his time with the club before a move to Arsenal in 1982.

Woodcock spent four seasons in north London before a second stint in Germany with Cologne, scoring a further 11 goals in 49 appearances over two seasons.

Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert spent just a single season in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, but the former Scotland midfielder will always hold a special place in the hearts of the club’s famed ‘Yellow Wall’.

Dortmund signed the midfielder on a free transfer following the expiry of his Motherwell contract in 1996, after Lambert had impressed against the German outfit during the previous season’s UEFA Cup.

Lambert headed to Dortmund after a previous unsuccessful trial at PSV Eindhoven and has since spoken about overcoming incredible self-doubt to become a cult hero at the Westfalenstadion.

His sole season in the German football saw Dortmund embark on a memorable run to the Champions League final, with Lambert outstanding in both legs of the semi-final victory over Manchester United.

The final saw the Scot star once more in a man-of-the-match performance, registering an assist and shackling the talents of Juventus’ Zinedine Zidane as Dortmund were crowned champions of Europe. Lambert became the first British player to win the European Cup with a foreign side and the first to win the trophy in the Champions League era.

Lambert returned to Scottish football with Celtic later that year after a short but somewhat improbably sweet spell at Dortmund.

Owen Hargreaves

Owen Hargreaves became the first player to play for England despite having never lived in the country, having made quite the impression during the early years of his career at Bayern Munich.

Born in Canada to British parents before moving to Germany to pursue his footballing career, the midfielder broke into the Bayern side as a teenager during the 2000/01 season and won a Bundesliga and Champions League double during his debut campaign in the Bavarian’s first team.

Hargreaves spent seven seasons with Bayern and added a further three league titles and three German Cups to his extensive silverware collection, becoming the most decorated British player in the history of the Bundesliga.

A hard-running, authoritative midfield presence, Hargreaves made 218 appearances and scored ten goals for Bayern before a £17m move to Manchester United.

Despite winning both the Premier League and Champions League at Old Trafford his time in English football was largely hindered by a nightmarish run of injuries that saw him retire aged just 31.

Jadon Sancho

The trailblazer for the young British talents heading to the Bundesliga in recent seasons, Sancho decided to take a leap of faith in joining Borussia Dortmund after becoming frustrated at a lack of opportunities at Manchester City.

The Premier League’s glass ceiling was been navigated in some style by Sancho’s switch to Germany, as the winger established himself as a senior England international following his fine form at the Westfalenstadion.

Sancho emerged as one of the most exciting young talents in world football following his exposure to regular first-team football in Dortmund, evolving into one of the Bundesliga’s most productive widemen.

The winger provided 114 goals and assists in just 137 appearances across all competitions for Dortmund, form which saw him named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season in 2018–19 and 2019–20.

Sancho’s performances attracted interest from the Premier League and he signed for Manchester United in a £72.9m deal in 2021, but has since struggled to replicate his Bundesliga best at Old Trafford.

Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham followed the path Sancho set in leaving English football for Germany, with the midfielder signing for Borussia Dortmund after an exciting breakthrough season at Birmingham City.

The teenager made an instant impact after his arrival in the Bundesliga and was voted as the division’s Newcomer of the Season during his debut campaign.

Since then Bellingham has established himself as arguably Europe’s most exciting young talent, cementing a place in the senior England side and earning inclusion in the Bundesliga’s Team of the Season in consecutive campaigns.

The 19-year-old produced his best football for Dortmund in 2022/23, as he scored 14 goals in all competitions to be named as the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season.

Bellingham’s outstanding box-to-box performances led to predictable interest from the Premier League, but the midfielder turned down a return to England in favour of signing for Real Madrid in 2023. The deal could reach a club-record £113m and makes Bellingham, still just a teenager, the most expensive English footballer of all time.

Read – Remembering Jurgen Klinsmann’s short but super sweet spell at Spurs

Read Also – Five of the most embarrassing own goals in Premier League history

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