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Champions League final: British players to have won prize with foreign club

Only four British male footballers have ever won the Champions League with an overseas club.

Although Manchester City and Arsenal's exit from the Champions League at the quarter-finals stage means there are no English teams remaining in the competition, there is still plenty of English interest in this year's tournament ahead of the Wembley final.

The meeting of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at England's national stadium will pit Los Blancos sensation Jude Bellingham against BVB loan star Jadon Sancho in the Champions League final, with an increasing trend of players from Britain opting to test themselves abroad.

In the past, Brits plying their trade on the continent at the highest level were few and far between, so much so that only four male players from Britain have ever won the European Cup or Champions League with a foreign team.

As Bellingham and Sancho bid to join this select club this year, we take a look through the archives to examine how this distinguished quartet succeeded in conquering Europe...

Champions League Final

Paul Lambert - Borussia Dortmund (1997)

The first player from Britain to win the Champions League with an overseas club was in fact a Scotsman, with Paul Lambert claiming glory with Borussia Dortmund back in 1997.

One of the best Scottish players of his generation, central midfielder Lambert came through the youth system at St Mirren, winning the Scottish Cup with the Buddies in 1987 before joining Motherwell in 1993.

Lambert spent three years with the Steelmen before leaving upon the expiry of his contract in 1996 under the new Bosman ruling.

Free to explore his options, the 27-year-old was granted trials at both PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund and received a contract with the latter after impressing in a pre-season tournament.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Paulo Sousa was also signed by Dortmund in the summer of 1996 from Juventus, with the Portugal international expected to start ahead of Lambert in midfield.

It was the Scotsman who quickly established himself in Dortmund's engine room, however, making 31 Bundesliga appearances in total in his maiden season at the club.

German champions in the previous two seasons, Dortmund were unable to make it three in a row in the Bundesliga in 1996/97 as Bayern Munich reigned supreme, but BVB would make up for their lack of domestic silverware in Europe.

Progressing through in second place behind Atletico Madrid in a group which also contained Widzew Lodz of Poland and Steaua Bucharest of Romania, Dortmund made it all the way to the final after knocking out Auxerre and Manchester United in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

Singled out for individual praise in Roy Keane's autobiography for his performances in Dortmund's semi-final success over the Red Devils, Lambert would go on to play a pivotal role as the Germans beat Juventus 3-1 in the final in Munich.

Charged with shackling one of the best players in the world in the form of Zinedine Zidane, Lambert provided the assist for Dortmund's Karl-Heinz Riedle's crucial opening goal with a clever cross.

Not bad for a boy from Glasgow.

Steve McManaman - Real Madrid (2000 & 2002)

Jude Bellingham is not the first English player to have achieved success with the world famous Real Madrid, with Liverpudlian Steve McManaman enjoying a decorated four-year spell with Los Blancos between 1999 and 2003.

Coming through the youth ranks at boyhood club Liverpool, McManaman spent nine years as a professional at Anfield - winning the FA Cup in 1992 and League Cup in 1995 - before earning a life-changing move to Real Madrid on a free transfer in 1999.

A dynamic wide midfielder with boundless energy and terrific dribbling ability, McManaman proved a shrewd signing by the Spanish giants, and was a key figure as Real Madrid clinched their eighth Champions League title in his first season at the club in 1999/00.

Knocking out holders Manchester United and Bayern Munich in the quarters and semis respectively, Real Madrid set up an all-Spanish final against Valencia at the Stade de France in Paris.

In arguably the finest moment of his distinguished career, McManaman scored Real's second goal of the night with an outstanding volley in a 3-0 triumph, to become the first English player ever to win the Champions League whilst representing an overseas club.

McManaman would go on to replicate this feat two years later in the 2001/02 campaign, with the Scouser scoring a critical second goal in a 2-0 triumph over Barcelona in an El Clasico semi-final as Los Blancos made it through to take on Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park in the final.

A fans' favourite throughout his time at the club, McManaman came on as a second half substitute for Luis Figo in Glasgow as Vicente del Bosque's side ran out 2-1 winners on the night Zinedine Zidane scored one of the sport's all-time great goals with a spectacular volley from outside the box.

Champions League 2023/24

Owen Hargreaves - Bayern Munich (2001)

Messrs Kane and Dier would not be the first Englishmen to win the Champions League on the books of Bayern Munich should they lift the famous trophy at Wembley in June.

Born in Canada to a Welsh mother and English father, Owen Hargreaves only started playing football seriously at the age of 15.

Representing local youth team Calgary Foothills as a teenager, Hargreaves made a life-changing move to European giants Bayern Munich as a 16-year-old in the summer of 1997.

Making his first team breakthrough with the Bavarians in 2000/01, Hargreaves was part of the Bayern Munich team under Ottmar Hitzfeld which won the double of the Bundesliga and Champions League in his first campaign.

Making 14 Bundesliga appearances in 2000/01, Hargreaves was selected in the starting lineup for the 2001 Champions League final at the San Siro as Bayern Munich edged Valencia following a penalty shootout.

Three months after becoming a European champion with Bayern in August 2001, despite having turned out three times for Wales' Under 19s, Hargreaves made his senior international debut for England in a friendly against the Netherlands at White Hart Lane.

An energetic, all-action midfielder who could fulfil a number of different tactical roles, Hargreaves went on to receive 42 international caps for England and represented the Three Lions at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups as well as Euro 2004.

His 2001 Champions League triumph with Bayern Munich would not be the only time he got his hands on the biggest prize on offer in European club football, with Hargreaves starting the 2008 Champions League final as Manchester United eventually prevailed over Chelsea on penalties.

Gareth Bale - Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2022)

The most decorated player in this exclusive club, Welshman Gareth Bale has a remarkable collection of five Champions League winners' medals - the most of any Brit in history.

A youth player at Southampton, Bale first participated in the Champions League with Tottenham, memorably giving Brazilian right-back Maicon the run around both at White Hart Lane and the San Siro in the group stages of the 2010/11 tournament.

A big money transfer to Real Madrid duly followed, with Bale going on to achieve startling success on the European stage with Los Blancos.

Bale helped Real Madrid win an elusive 10th Champions League title - coined La Decima - in his first season at the club in 2013/14.

Bagging a crucial header in the 110th minute of extra-time in the final - his sixth goal of the tournament - Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid eventually ran out 4-1 winners against city rivals Atletico in Lisbon.

Welshman Bale would win his second Champions League title two years later in 2016, with Los Blancos again overcoming Diego Simeone's Atletico in the final at the San Siro in Milan.

Registering the assist for Sergio Ramos' opening goal, Bale went on to score his penalty in a 5-3 shootout success to be crowned a European champion for a second time.

This Milan success against Atletico formed the first leg of an unprecedented 'threepeat' under Zinedine Zidane, with Real Madrid going on to win the next two Champions Leagues - beating Juventus and Liverpool in the 2017 and 2018 finals respectively.

Bale played an especially prominent role in the 2018 final against Liverpool in Kyiv, netting a defining brace after coming on as a 61st-minute substitute with the score level at 1-1.

Just two minutes after taking to the field, Bale produced a moment of breathtaking quality - latching onto a Marcelo cross in acrobatic fashion to direct an audacious bicycle kick beyond Loris Karius in the Liverpool goal to give Real a 2-1 lead.

After arguably the best Champions League final goal of all time, or at least a credible challenger to his manager Zidane's stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park in 2002, Bale went on to seal the deal with a gift-wrapped third effort after Karius spilled a speculative long shot from the Welshman into his own net.

Bale's British-record fifth Champions League crown would arrive in far less memorable circumstances, with the 111-times capped former Wales international awarded a winners' medal following Los Blancos' 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the final of the 2022 competition in Paris despite playing for only seven minutes throughout the duration of the tournament.

After nine years at the club, Bale left Real Madrid in the summer of 2022, joining MLS outfit Los Angeles FC.

Although his reputation in Madrid is somewhat blemished due to his perceived reluctance to fully assimilate into the traditions of the club and local culture, the scale of his achievements at Real Madrid cannot be overstated.

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