The Brits who have played in France as Aaron Ramsey signs for Nice

‘Magic Chris’ Waddle is a Marseille legend, Hoddle shone under Wenger at Monaco and Beckham charmed PSG in the last days of his career… Brits who’ve played in France as Ramsey joins Nice

  • Aaron Ramsey has signed for French club Nice after leaving Juventus
  • Wales midfielder becomes the latest in long line of Brits to play in Ligue 1 
  • Chris Waddle at Marseille and Glenn Hoddle at Monaco were successful in 80s
  • David Beckham rounded off his playing career with stint at Paris Saint-Germain
  • Ray Wilkins, Clive Allen and Joey Barton all had shorter, less successful stays 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

Aaron Ramsey is poised to swap the Alpine vistas of Turin for the sun-kissed shores of the Cote d’Azur as the Welshman takes the next step in his career.

The midfielder settled up with Juventus to exit his contract a year early and has signed for ambitious Ligue 1 club Nice on a free.

It gives 31-year-old Ramsey a chance to revive a career that faltered in Italy and play himself into form ahead of the World Cup in November.

Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey has completed a move to Nice after leaving Juventus 

The Wales midfielder has been without a club after settling the final year of his Juventus deal

He will become the fourth Welshman to play in the French top-flight and the first since Brynley Griffiths turned out for FC Nancy in the late 1950s.

Other Welshmen to have played in France include Dai Astley, a prolific goalscorer in his day who joined Metz in 1946-47 at the end of a career that included spells with Charlton, Aston Villa and Derby.

The other was William Arthur Hayward, who played for SC Fives, one of the forerunner clubs of the modern-day Lille, in the 1932-33 season.

But while Welsh players have been thin on the ground, Ramsey joins an extensive list of British footballers who have plied their trade on the other side of the Channel.


Paris Saint-Germain – 2012-13

With just the simple utterance of the word ‘Bonjour’ at his unveiling, David Beckham had the City of Lights under his spell.

The erstwhile England captain was right at the twilight of his glittering career when PSG signed him from LA Galaxy on a short-term contract.

What’s more, Becks played for free with all of his salary donated to a Parisian children’s charity.

The tears flow as David Beckham leaves the field in his final game as a player – for Paris Saint-Germain against Brest in May 2013

Becks was 37 when he spent the final few months of his playing career at the Parc des Princes

He may have been 37 and used mainly off the bench but Beckham still offered a sprinkling of stardust and would pick up a Ligue 1 winners’ medal.

Shortly before the end of the campaign, Beckham announced his intention to hang up his boots and he received a standing ovation from the Parc des Princes when he bowed out in a game against Brest.

And, by the way, what a pair of boots to hang up – his trademark adidas predators adorned with the British flag and inscribed with the names of his wife and children.

The former England captain wore specially customised adidas boots for his final match


Monaco – 1987-1990

Hoddle was the kind of cultured midfielder appreciated on the continent but produced so rarely by England.

After considerable success with Tottenham, Hoddle wanted to test himself in a foreign league and signed for Monaco in 1987.

His move to the principality meant he could also continue to play in European competitions, with English clubs banned following the Heysel disaster.

Glenn Hoddle (right) and Mark Hateley (left) were signed by Monaco boss Arsene Wenger

Hoddle fitted in nicely to a team coached by a young Arsene Wenger and also featuring fellow Englishman Mark Hateley and prolific striker George Weah.

His first season saw Monaco clinch their first Ligue 1 title in six years and they reached the European Cup quarter-finals the following year.

Unfortunately, his effectiveness was curbed by a serious knee injury that saw an early exit from the club and also curtail Hoddle’s career. In all, he scored 30 times in 87 appearances.


Marseille – 1989-1992

After Hoddle had done so much to restore the reputation of the British footballer abroad, Waddle also swapped White Hart Lane for the Mediterranean coast when he moved to Marseille in 1989.

The classy attacking midfielder is by far the most successful player from these shores to play in French football and is still regarded as ‘Magic Chris’ by the Marseille fans.

Chris Waddle celebrates Marseille’s win over AC Milan in the 1991 European Cup quarter-final

The Englishman was voted Marseille’s second best player of all time behind Jean Pierre Papin

He did cost them £4.5m, the third-highest transfer fee ever paid at that time, but during his time at Stade Velodrome they were French champions three times and runners-up in the European Cup.

His trademark mullet flowing behind him, Waddle scored 29 goals in 149 Marseille appearances and in 1998 was voted the club’s second best player of all time behind Jean Pierre Papin.

While Waddle’s skill enabled Marseille to dominate domestically, they agonisingly lost on penalties to Red Star Belgrade in the 1991 European Cup final.

Waddle had returned to England and joined Sheffield Wednesday by the time Marseille did claim the famous trophy two years later.

Waddle didn’t achieve the crowning glory of a European Cup win as Marseille lost the 1991 final


Marseille – 2012-2013

After Barton was sent off and slapped with a 12-match ban for attempting to fight the whole Manchester City team during the famous ‘Aguerroooooo’ title-decider in 2012, a move abroad seemed the most sensible option.

The midfielder chose Marseille, a club and a city more tolerant of a maverick than most. 

Unfortunately, the French authorities decided Barton had to serve his ban there as well, restricting him to just Europa League action at first.

Joey Barton (right) keeps tabs on Beckham (left) during a clash between PSG and Marseille

He scored directly from a corner kick in a game against Borussia Monchengladbach and there was plenty of appreciation for his fighting spirit but controversy was never far away.

In May 2013, he was given a two-match suspended ban for calling PSG’s Thiago Silva an ‘overweight ladyboy’ on Twitter.

In all, Barton played 33 times for the club during his loan spell before returning to Loftus Road. 

In his absence, QPR had suffered relegation to the Championship and chairman Tony Fernandes admitted the team had ‘missed a real leader’ in Barton.

Barton exchanges words with Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a colourful loan spell with Marseille


Lille – 2011-2012

England midfielder Cole had fallen out of favour at Liverpool and in the summer of 2011 headed to reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille in search of more regular football.

His year in France was a fairly successful one, with four goals and three assists in his 27 league appearances, plus a few extra goals in the domestic cup competitions.

Cole played in the same Lille side as Eden Hazard before the Belgian signed for Chelsea and he performed consistently enough for manager Rudi Garcia to want to keep him a little longer.

However, new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was determined that he returned to Anfield in the summer of 2012. But there was no winning back his place and Cole would soon be on his way back to West Ham.

Joe Cole enjoyed a productive loan spell at French club Lille in the 2011-2012 season


Monaco – 1987-1990

Hateley already had experience of continental football having played three seasons with AC Milan before joining Hoddle and Wenger at Monaco in 1987.

The striker would score 13 times as Monaco claimed the league title in his first season but he would never be able to exceed that total, scoring seven times in 1988-89 and three goals the following season.

Nonetheless, Hateley commanded a £1million transfer fee when Rangers bought him in 1990 and he would go on to experience several years of success at Ibrox.

Hateley and Hoddle recreate their Monaco glory days on the Stade Louis II pitch in 2015


Marseille – 1984-1985

Cunningham had already spent time with Real Madrid by the time he took up another overseas challenge at Marseille for the 1984-85 campaign.

The winger would only spend the one season there and it was far from the club’s best.

In fact, the eight goals Cunningham scored played a significant part in sparing them from relegation. Marseille finished just one place and two points above the drop zone having won promotion the season before.

The glories that would come along just a handful of years later for Marseille were a distant dream during Cunningham’s short time there.

Laurie Cunningham in the colours of Marseille during his one and only season with the club

Clive Allen in Bordeaux colours in 1988


Bordeaux – 1988-1989

Allen was a reliable goalscorer for Tottenham during the mid-1980s but fancied a change of scenery and moved to France’s wine capital Bordeaux for the 1988-89 season.

Despite a very good return of 13 goals in 19 league appearances for them, Allen would stay just the one season.

It was a pretty middling campaign as well, with Bordeaux finishing a lowly 13th and not looking likely to challenge the likes of Marseille, Monaco or PSG at the top.

Allen swiftly returned to English football and joined Manchester City before later playing for Chelsea, West Ham, Millwall and Carlisle.


Paris Saint-Germain – 1987-1988

Wilkins was another prominent English player of his era who dabbled with a brief stint in French football. It was indeed short; just 13 matches during 1987-88.

It was almost a stop off for Wilkins between his much-heralded time with AC Milan and a successful few years with Rangers.

And like many contemporaries in the eighties, Wilkins’ time in France coincided with a lean spell for their club.

PSG finished down in 15th during that particular season, finishing just a couple of points above the relegation places.

Ray Wilkins (right) in action for Paris Saint-Germain during his brief time with the club


Monaco – 1996-1998

Plenty of Scottish footballers played in France during the 1930s and 1940s but they’ve been thin on the ground in the decades since.

Collins is one exception, spending a couple of years with Monaco in the mid-1990s.

It was a contentious move under the then-relatively new Bosman ruling and Celtic were left furious that the midfielder left on a free. 

John Collins (left) takes on Beckham (right) during Monaco’s win over Man United in 1998

Chasing compensation, they tried to argue the Bosman rule didn’t apply because Monaco was outside the jurisdiction of the European Union. The claim wasn’t successful.

Collins made an impact, helping Monaco win the title in 1997. 

They reached the semi-finals of the Champions League the following season, beating Manchester United in the quarters before Juventus knocked them out.

Monaco sold Collins on to Everton in the summer of 1998, shortly after he’d represented Scotland at France ’98 and memorably scored a penalty against Brazil in the tournament opener.

Collins (left) spent two seasons with Monaco, helping them to win the French league title

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