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Brits abroad: Which footballers have been a hit?

Jadon Sancho, Gareth Bale and Joey Barton Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jadon Sancho, Gareth Bale and Joey Barton have all played for foreign teams

He's won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League four times as a player at Real Madrid.

But despite that, all the talk around Gareth Bale recently hasn't been about his success, but why he's no longer in favour at the Spanish side.

The Welsh star recently tried to move to a Chinese club as manager Zinedine Zidane said him leaving would be "best for everyone".

Bale's had a rocky relationship with both the fans and Spanish media since he moved to the Bernabeu in 2013 for what was a world record transfer fee of £85m.

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Image caption Gareth Bale has been a Real Madrid player since 2013

One of his main criticisms off the pitch has been his apparent failure to learn Spanish, choosing to speak English in press conferences.

Some have also said he hasn't integrated with his fellow team-mates, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saying he hadn't adapted to Spanish life.

The 30-year-old has also been mocked by Spanish football show El Chiringuito, with presenters joking about him playing more golf than football and blaming it for his injuries.

So just what do you have to do to be a hit as a British player abroad?

The Good

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Image caption He wasn't a prolific Spanish speaker, but David Beckham was a hit with Real fans anyway

Perhaps Britain's greatest export to Europe was David Beckham.

The former Real Madrid midfielder joined the team in 2003 and won over fans through the sheer amount of effort he would put into games.

He would stay out on the pitch to applaud fans at the end of games when most players had gone down the tunnel and also helped secure a trophy after a four year drought for the club.

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Image caption Gary Lineker playing in the El Clasico against Real Madrid in 1987

Gary Lineker learnt Spanish at Barcelona, where he spent three seasons as a striker from 1986 to 1989.

He has spoken a lot about the importance of learning languages as a footballer, saying "speaking Spanish opened doors in my career" in a tweet.

As a Barca player he scored an impressive 42 goals in 103 La Liga appearances and helped them win the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners' Cup.

You can even watch him present a bit of Match of the Day in Spanish too.

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Image caption Jadon Sancho playing for Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho made a big move when he left the youth set up at Manchester City to join Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

The 19-year-old winger has settled into life in Germany and said in an interview in January "I'm happy right now - I've adapted really well.

"The language barrier worried me quite a lot. My German isn't the best but I'm learning."

He's a huge hit with fans because of his goal scoring record - the winger scored 12 goals last season and was named in the 2018-19 Bundesliga team of the season.

He says he has no plans to leave Germany any time soon.

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Image caption Aaron Ramsey has just signed for Serie A winners Juventus

It's only been a matter of weeks since Aaron Ramsey signed for Serie A side Juventus, but he impressed fans when he addressed the media in Italian at a press conference last week.

"Excuse my Italian, it's not very good," were the former Arsenal midfielder's first words, but he went on to fluently read a statement about how excited he was to play for the team.

The Wales international also seems to be settling into life in Turin nicely too, if his Instagram is anything to go by.

And it's not just about the men, of course. Lucy Bronze crossed the Channel to Lyon in 2017 and quickly earned herself a Champions League medal.

It wasn't all plain sailing though - Lucy told a BBC documentary earlier this year, 'I moved away to a team where I didn't know anyone. I didn't know the language, I don't really know the country...

'But I just wanted to succeed. I wanted to win the Champions League and I knew the opportunity I was getting at Lyon was one I couldn't turn down.'

The Bad

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Image caption Gary Neville hasn't managed since leaving Valencia

It's not been plain sailing for every British export though, especially Gary Neville, who didn't have problems as a player, but as a manager.

He joined Spanish side Valencia in 2015, but lasted only four months after winning only three of 16 games and losing 7-0 to Barcelona along the way.

There were a few reasons for the former Manchester United fullback's failure but the language barrier was touted as one of the biggest.

He worked hard to learn Spanish, but often had to clarify what he wanted to say in English at press conferences and admitted the language barrier was a big problem in the dressing room.

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Image caption Ian Rush playing for Juventus in 1987

And while Gary Lineker was one striker who succeeded in Europe in the 80s, Ian Rush was not.

The prolific Liverpool goal scorer made the move to Turin in 1987, but survived only one season.

At the time it was claimed that he said: "I couldn't settle in Italy. It was like living in a foreign country."

But he has since called the comments "a set-up" and talked openly about the struggle of only having one English speaker on the team in the form of Michael Laudrup.

The Ugly

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Image caption Steve McClaren looking stressed at FC Twente's training round in 2013

Some British exports have taken it too far trying to integrate into a foreign team though.

Steve McClaren's infamous - sorry infamoush - Dutch accent when he was announced as the manager of Netherlands team FC Twente in 2008 is a good example.

In a TV interview that's gone viral since, he spoke about how he was looking forward to playing a Champions League game against Arsenal in a voice distinctly different to his usual one.

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Image caption Joey Barton is now the manager of Fleetwood Town

And he's not the only one to take on a weird accent during a move abroad.

After playing his first game for Ligue 1 side Marseille, midfielder Joey Barton gave an interview to the French media about the game.

But it wasn't just a new shirt he had adopted, the former Newcastle player had also taken on a bizarre French accent as he fielded questions about his performance.

He said it was because he was worried the media wouldn't understand his Scouse accent.

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