Bellingham To Real Madrid: How Have Other English Stars Fared At The Bernabeu?

Jude Bellingham will become just the sixth Englishman to play for Real Madrid
13:00, 26 May 2023

Jude Bellingham can win the Bundesliga title this weekend with Borussia Dortmund to cap off a remarkable time in Germany. He joined from Birmingham City in 2020 and since then has proven himself to be one of the best young midfielders on the planet. He’s emerged as a key player for club and country and now looks set for a big money move away from the Bundesliga. 

According to Fabrizio Romano, the deal has been agreed to take him to Real Madrid on a six-year contract and Bellingham will officially join the 14-time European champions after the conclusion of the current season. He’ll become just the sixth Englishman in history to play for Real Madrid, and the first for 16 years, but how have the others fared? 

Laurie Cunningham (1979-1984)

Laurie Cunningham was a key figure in English football history. As one of the first black players to play in the top flight of England he experienced awful racism, but also was part of West Brom’s famous ‘Three Degrees’ alongside Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson. 


Those three helped change the sport for the better, and having flourished for WBA, Real Madrid came in with a bid of £950,000 to sign the talented winger. He was an instant success, scoring twice on his debut and winning the league and cup double in his very first season. 

He was so good that he received a standing ovation from the Nou Camp after he starred in a 2-0 victory in El Clasico. On the pitch he was brilliant but unfortunately injuries stopped his progress and he was loaned out twice before being sold to Marseille. Tragically at the age of 33, he died in a car crash in Madrid. 

Steve McManaman (1999-2003)

Now known for his co-commentary on BT Sport, Steve McManaman was a class act as a player and made the move to Real Madrid in the late 1990s. After leaving Liverpool, he carved out a brilliant career for himself in Spain alongside some of the greatest players we have ever seen. 

Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo may have held most of the headlines, but McManaman was Madrid’s adopted scouser, who helped them win two La Liga titles and two Champions League titles during his time there. Of course, his most famous hour came in the Champions League final in 2000, as he scored a stunning scissor volley and won man of the match in a 3-0 win over Valencia. 

David Beckham (2003-2007)

Another member of the Galacticos, Real Madrid may have boasted the biggest names on the planet but they weren’t actually that successful, Beckham included. They failed to win La Liga in Beckham’s first three seasons and although he returned to the side to help them over the line in 2007 - Los Blancos went without a Champions League during his tenure. 

A huge success for Brand Beckham - perhaps not so much for Real Madrid as a football team. 

Michael Owen (2004-2005)

£8m for Michael Owen seemed like a potential bargain for Madrid as he joined Ronaldo and Robinho as attacking options. He’d scored over 100 goals for Liverpool and was an established England international that had played at two World Cups. But his move to Real Madrid saw him consigned to the bench, even if he was impactful from it. 

16 goals from 45 appearances in total wasn’t a bad return by any means, but Newcastle United decided to offer Madrid the chance to double their money after 12 months and Los Blancos snapped their hand off. Owen was never the same player when he returned to the Premier League, and was unfortunate that circumstances cut short his time in Madrid. A disappointing end for Owen. 

Jonathan Woodgate (2005-2007)

An own goal and a red card on his debut was a sign of things to come for Woodgate. He was injury-prone when he arrived and made just 14 appearances during his two years at the Bernabeu - later being voted as Real Madrid’s worst signing of the 21st century by Marca. Ouch. 

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