English Premiership

5 British players who played in Italy

2016-09-01 18:17
Joe Hart (Getty Images)

London - Frozen out by new manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, England goalkeeper Joe Hart completed a season-long loan move to Italian side Torino on Wednesday.

Here are five British players who went to Italy seeking fame and fortune:

John Charles (Juventus, Roma)

Nicknamed 'Il Gigante Buono' ('The Gentle Giant'), Wales international Charles joined Juventus from Leeds United in 1957 and would go on to become one of the Turin giants' greatest foreign signings. The strapping striker, who could also play at centre-back, scored 93 goals in 155 appearances over five years at the club, helping Juve to three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia crowns. Formidable in the air, he was also renowned for his sense of fair play. He came third in the Ballon d'Or voting in 1959 and was in 1997 elected Juve's greatest foreign player by the club's fans. Charles also spent time at Roma, scoring four goals in 10 Serie A games during the 1962-63 season. He died aged 72 in 2004.
Gerry Hitchens (Inter Milan, Torino, Atalanta, Cagliari)

A largely unheralded figure in his homeland, Hitchens enjoyed the most enduring success in Italy of any British footballer. He joined Inter Milan from Aston Villa in 1961 and did not return to England until 1969 following subsequent spells at Torino, Atalanta and Cagliari. When he was named in England's squad for the 1962 World Cup in Chile, he became the first English player to represent his country while playing for a club overseas. But manager Alf Ramsey's preference for domestically based players meant Hitchens won only seven international caps, scoring five goals. He died at the age of 48 after suffering a heart attack during a charity football match in North Wales.

Denis Law (Torino)

Law was 21 and a Scotland international when he joined Torino from Manchester City in 1961 for a fee of 115,000 pounds ($151,000, 135,610 euros). But his time in Italy was dogged by problems from the start, with Inter Milan attempting to hijack his move to Turin before it had been completed. Law struggled to get to grips with the defensive nature of Italian football and in February 1962 he was injured in a car crash with Scottish team-mate Joe Baker. After being sent off in a match against Napoli, he flew home to Aberdeen and managed to force through a move to Manchester United. He would form part of a 'Holy Trinity' alongside George Best and Bobby Charlton at Old Trafford and remains United's third-highest goal-scorer with 237 goals.

Paul Gascoigne (Lazio)

Gascoigne first caught Italian eyes by starring for England at the 1990 World Cup, capturing hearts with his tears in the semi-final against West Germany after receiving a booking that would have kept him out of the final. He was due to join Lazio in 1991, but the transfer was delayed by a year after he suffered a serious knee injury playing for Tottenham Hotspur against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup final. The madcap 'Gazza' endeared himself to Lazio's fans with an 89th-minute equaliser against hated city rivals Roma in his first season. But injuries prevented him making a sustained impact and he returned to Britain with Rangers in 1995.

Ashley Cole (Roma)

Following eight glittering seasons at Chelsea, former England left-back Cole surprisingly pitched up at Roma in 2014. He was praised in Britain for seeking to broaden his horizons, but the move proved a disaster. The early signs were ominous, with Cole mocked on social media after a photograph showed him lurking conspicuously on the edge of a squad photo during pre-season. He played 11 league games in his first season, none in his second and had his contract terminated by mutual consent in January this year after just 18 months.


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