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Who were the best English players at Real Madrid?

Who were the best English players at Real Madrid?

Real Madrid has seen its fair share of stars hailing from various countries. However, only a handful of English players have donned the famous white jersey, and their impact has been a mixed bag.

With the signing of teenager Jude Bellingham confirmed to Real Madrid, let's look at the best English players to suit up for Los Blancos. 

Laurie Cunningham (1979-1984)

The first Englishman to play for Real Madrid, winger Laurie Cunningham, signed for Los Blancos in 1979 after a successful stint at West Bromwich Albion. Cunningham was a trailblazer as an Englishman and one of the first black players to feature prominently in European football.

During his time at Real Madrid, Cunningham won two La Liga titles (1979-80 and 1981-82) and a (1982). However, a series of injuries and competition for places reduced his playing time. Despite his inconsistent run, Cunningham's talent and skill left a lasting impression on Madridistas.

David Beckham (2003-2007)

Perhaps the most famous Englishman to play for Real Madrid, David Beckham joined the Galacticos in 2003 from Manchester United. The midfielder, known for his set-piece expertise and pin-point crossing ability, brought glamour and marketability to the club.

Beckham's time in Madrid was initially challenging, with the team failing to win a major trophy in his first three seasons. However, in his final season, Beckham played a pivotal role in helping Los Blancos secure the 2006-07 La Liga title. Despite the media circus surrounding his time in , Beckham's commitment and professionalism endeared him to the Real Madrid faithful.

Michael Owen (2004-2005)

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen signed for Real Madrid in 2004 but struggled to make a significant impact during his single season in Spain. While competing for a starting spot with Ronaldo, Raul, and Fernando Morientes, Owen scored 13 goals in 36 league appearances, primarily coming off the bench.

Despite a decent goal-scoring record, Owen failed to adapt to Spanish football fully and returned to England with Newcastle United in 2005. Many believe the player and the club missed an opportunity during his time in Madrid.

Steve McManaman (1999-2003)

Former Liverpool star Steve McManaman joined Real Madrid on a free transfer in 1999. The versatile midfielder was known for his dribbling skills, goal-scoring prowess, and ability to create chances for his teammates.

McManaman's time at Madrid was fruitful, with two La Liga titles (2000-01 and 2002-03), two UEFA Champions League titles (1999-2000 and 2001-02), a UEFA Super Cup (2002), and a Club World Cup (2002) to his name. One of his most memorable moments came in the 2000 UEFA Champions League final, where he scored a stunning volley to help secure victory against Valencia. McManaman's success at Real Madrid paved the way for future English players to consider a move to Spain.

Jude Bellingham (2023-?) 

On June 14, 2023, 19-year-old starlet Jude Bellingham became the 6th Englishman ever to play for Real Madrid. The $145 million transfer officially makes him the most expensive British player ever, beating out 's $138 million move to Man City in 2021. The midfielder also becomes the second most expensive signing in Real Madrid history, after .

With Bellingham, Real Madrid's midfield is completely stacked — Valverde, Tchouameni, and Camavinga among others.

Could Bellingham — who was just playing for Birmingham City in the Championship less than two years ago — become the most memorable Englishman to suit up for Los Blancos?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/David Cornejo

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