One way or another Joe Cole is making an impact at Lille and to celebrate we look back at some of the best players to contribute to Anglo/French relations.
Though the likes of Joe Cole and earlier Ray Wilkins (at PSG) picked some of the more Northern locations of France to ply their trade, most Englishmen that danced over the turf on French pitches did so on the Southern coast. Here are the five that had the biggest impact on French football.
5. Sam Jennings (Olympique de Marseille)
Born in 1898 in Cinderhill, Nottinghamshire, the centre-forward died in battle on 26 August 1944. Prior to that, he was a prolific striker for Reading in the early 1920s, scoring 45 goals in 110 games, and later Brighton & Hove Albion, scoring 61 goals also in 110 games. Between both World Wars he had a one-year spell at Olympique de Marseille, becoming the first Englishman to ply his trade in French football. Aside of his playing duties, he was an active member of the club staff as instructor for the youth team. Renowned for training by throwing the ball up a pitch and racing his greyhound to where it landed, Jennings set the tone for further Englishmen to play their football in the South of France. Tragically, he was killed in action fighting for his country during World War II.
4. Mark Hateley (Monaco)
'In difficult times, it always boiled down to his headers. He was conscious of his strength and, as is often the case with English footballers, was never too bothered with who the opponent was.' - Arsène Wenger
The son of former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Tony Hateley, Mark equally rested his attacking potency on a famous aerial ability as well as his heritage. After a childhood spent in the US, Hateley started his career at Coventry City before being transferred to Portsmouth FC, freshly promoted in the Second Division. There, he scored 25 goals in 44 games prompting Italian giants AC Milan to pursue him. The club, coached by Swedish legend Nils Liedholm (who notably took two years to misplace a pass at the San Siro during his playing days in the 1950s), had just risen to the Serie A after being demoted to the Second Division for a match-fixing scandal. Hateley failed to reproduce his Portsmouth magic and joined Arsène Wenger's AS Monaco in 1987. He spent three years and a lot of money in the Principalty, helping the club secure the title in 1988 – the last time Monaco ended a season atop the French First Division.
His contribution in Monaco was so good it prompted Wenger to go for another Englishman in Glenn Hoddle the very next year (see below). Nicknamed Attila for his physical presence, Hateley scored 22 times in 59 games. However, increasingly overshadowed both at AS Monaco by George Weah and in the England setup by Gary Lineker, he later moved to Glasgow Rangers where he enjoyed his best years. Glasgow manager Graeme Souness, who had already tried to bring him to Ibrox Park during his Milan spell, only to narrowly miss out on his signature in favour of AS Monaco, was rewarded for his perseverance as Hateley made 214 appearances for Rangers, scoring on 111 occasions.
Hateley recently made headlines in France as he recounted an episode when, in the build-up to a Champions' League clash against Marseille in 1993 playing with Glasgow Rangers, he stated to have been offered money by a 'friend of a friend' not to play play the game. Marseille won the competition that season beating AC Milan in the final, as well as the domestic league before being stripped of their title following match-fixing allegations against their former owner, Bernard Tapie.
3. Laurie Cunningham (Marseille)
The left winger was the first black player to represent England internationally at U21 level, and the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid, then coached by Serbian manager Vujadin Boskov who brought him over from West Bromwich Albion in 1979.
Cunningham made such a strong impression on Spanish pundits after his exhilarating performance for West Brom against Valencia in the 1979 UEFA Cup that he chose to go on his own to the Bernabeu stadium in the 1979-1980 off-season to ask them whether they would be interested in his services. Boskov obliged as the Englishman started his career famously by scoring a brace on his debut, once more against Valencia in the Liga. He went on to have a brilliant spell for the Madrid giants, notably receiving a standing ovation after a monumental game at the Nou Camp in the clasico against Barcelona in 1980.
Surprisingly omitted from England's squad for the 1980 European Championship, Ron Greenwood citing the late scheduling of the Spanish Cup final (despite calling up FC Koln's Woodcock, who finished his season later), Cunningham was equally notable for his off-the-pitch antics with girlfriend Nicky Brown. His constant outings in Madrid nightclubs sparkled a conflict with the Real board, especially after he aggravated a toe injury after spending the night in a disco. He soon saw his position at Madrid weakened despite another brilliant display in the 1981 European Cup Final against Liverpool.
Offloaded to Marseille on a free transfer in 1984, he helped the freshly promoted side secure their position in the First Division. With a team exclusively made of homegrown players, Olympique de Marseille needed some experienced players at the helm and moved for Cunningham. Despite the Englishman failing to reproduce his Real Madrid magic, his 8 goals in 30 games help Marseille consolidate their stay in the French top-flight as they save their First Division spot for two points, finishing the season 17th. He then moved back to England and later Spain, where he was killed in a car crash on July 15, 1989 aged 33.
2. Glenn Hoddle (Monaco)
The Tottenham Hotspur legend, named five times in the First Division PFA Team of the Year, left the North London side in 1987 after scoring 110 goals in 490 first-team matches. He cited his desire to play European football as his main reason for leaving his boyhood club, as English clubs were forbidden to take part in European competitions in the wake of the Heysel disaster. Hoddle was also convinced his playing style, driven by flair rather than tireless running, would be more appreciated on the other side of the Channel as he signed for AS Monaco whose manager, Arsène Wenger, was already heavily interested in English football. Wenger had already brought an Englishman in Mark Hateley to play in the Principality and felt Hoddle would be the perfect foil for Liberia striker George Weah.
Together with Weah, Hoddle formed the best attacking duo in France and inspired the club to the First Division title in 1988 before leading them to European Cup quarterfinals the next season. His team-mate Luc Sonor said of him he was 'the team's switch', the one through which came the light and current. Elected the Best Foreign Player in France in 1989, he then suffered a severe knee injury which ended his three-and-a-half years spell in France on a sour note . He left the club by mutual consent aged 33, having immensely contributed to improving the reputation of English players abroad.
1.Chris Waddle (Marseille)
Elated with the success of Hateley and later Waddle, Arsène Wenger recently recounted how he tried to move for Hoddle's former Tottenham team-mate Chris Waddle in 1987-1988:
'I discovered him in 87 when he played alongside Hoddle, Hodge and the Allen brothers...we bought Hoddle and prepared the move for Waddle the season after. The problem is that in the meantime, he signed a lucrative five-year deal with Spurs and the transfer fee became rather inflated. Later, when he left OM, we tried to propose him a two-year-deal but Sheffield doubled that duration which, coupled with Chris' desire to move back to England, buried our hopes alive.'
Wenger's eagerness to engage Waddle shows just how much the Hepworth-born's playstyle suited French football. Signing for French giants Olympique de Marseille in 1989 for a whooping £4.5m fee that even surprised English observers, thinking the Marseille scouts at White Hart Line were there to monitor Paul Gascoigne, Waddle won three straight league titles with OM in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Though his signing fee made him the third most expensive player in the world at the time behind Maradona (when he moved from Barcelona to Naples) and Ruud Gullit (from PSV to Milan), he quickly gained a cult status and was recently voted the second best OM player of the century behind Papin for the club's century anniversary in 1998. Heavily relied on and made to be the linchpin of every OM offensive (contrary to his Newcastle and Tottenham days where he had more help in that regard), 'Magic Chris' was renowned for his dazzling dribbling abilities as well as a mullet that make Mario Balotelli's extravagant hairstyles nowadays look almost wearable.
A common joke among OM fans these days is that if Waddle ran for mayor in the city of Marseille, he would win the election by a landslide, earning all votes but one – his, since he would still be too humble to vote for himself.
You can follow Igor on Twitter @Mladenovic_