Young to Inter: Beckham, Gascoigne and the other England stars who tried Serie A

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Ashley Young will hope for a glorious final chapter to his career with Scudetto-chasing Inter after completing his switch from Manchester United.

The 34-year-old was a part of the England team that reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and he is far from the only Three Lions star to try his hand in Italy's top flight.

Here, we take a look back at some of the famous English names to have sampled Serie A.

David Beckham

United and England great Beckham caused consternation among LA Galaxy fans by joining Milan on loan for the second half of the 2008-09 season. Motivated in part by his Three Lions recall and the need to retain fitness for World Cup qualifying matches, Beckham proved a hit, chipping in with two Serie A goals for the Rossoneri. He returned a year later as South Africa 2010 beckoned, but an Achilles injury ended the dream.

Ashley Cole

A 33-year-old Cole headed to Italy's top-flight following a distinguished Premier League career, so arguably provides a handy parallel for Young. However, a man who once had a solid claim on being the best left-back in world football struggled at Roma, most notably when he was substituted at half-time during a 7-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich with the score 5-0. After 16 appearances over the course of 18 months, Cole was released from his contract in January 2016 and joined LA Galaxy.

Joe Hart

After being jettisoned from Pep Guardiola's first-team plans at Manchester City on the eve of the 2016-17 campaign, Hart needed a quick solution. Torino were his unlikely saviours and the England goalkeeper endeared himself to supporters in Turin over the course of a season-long loan, despite some high-profile errors. It certainly proved a more successful post-City excursion than his subsequent spells at West Ham and Burnley.

Chris Smalling

If Young needs an example of a success story when swapping Old Trafford for Italy, then he need look no further than long-time colleague for club and country Smalling. Deemed surplus to requirements by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the arrival of Harry Maguire, the 30-year-old has been a revelation at Roma, performing superbly across 14 Serie A appearances and scoring twice. Smalling has made such an impression at the Stadio Olimpico that he narrowly missed out in a fan vote for Roma's team of the decade.

Micah Richards

Hart's long-time City team-mate Richards made a loan switch to Fiorentina for the 2014-15 season after falling out of favour with Manuel Pellegrini. The right-back made 19 appearances in all competitions but the injury problems that would force an early retirement aged 31 had already started to take a significant toll.

Paul Gascoigne

The breakout star of the Italia 90 World Cup, Gascoigne's move to Lazio became something of a saga – delayed by 12 months after he damaged knee ligaments launching into a wild challenge on Gary Charles during Tottenham's 1991 FA Cup final victory over Nottingham Forest. Once Gazza arrived in Rome, it was never anything but eventful. His first goal brought pandemonium as he headed a late equaliser in the derby against Roma, with moments of brilliance vying with fitness struggles thereafter. A broken leg suffered in training ruined his final season before joining Rangers in 1995.

David Platt

Platt did not have to contend with Gascoigne's goldfish bowl existence and the goalscoring midfielder carved out a fine career in Serie A. Signed by Bari a year after his breakthrough performances at Italia 90, Platt went on to earn moves to Juventus and then Sampdoria. He won the UEFA Cup at Juve and the Coppa Italia with Samp and, by the time he headed back to England to join Arsenal in 1995, Platt boasted 31 goals from 100 Serie A games.

Paul Ince

Way before Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Young made it cool, Paul Ince was swapping United for Inter in the mid-1990s. For two seasons from 1995-96, Ince starred for a Nerazzurri side during the early stages of its transformation under Massimo Moratti's ownership. He formed an impressive midfield partnership with Nicola Berti and had 10 goals from 54 Serie A outings before returning to the Premier League with Liverpool in 1997.

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