Profiling the North American Soccer Stars to have Played in Europe

January 8, 2024

Soccer has grown to become a hugely popular sport in North America. Mexico continues to produce top talent and Major League Soccer is thriving in the United States meanwhile Canada competed in their second-ever World Cup finals in 2022.

Another marker of success is how many players from these nations have played the ‘beautiful game’ in Europe. This article will profile some of the Mexican, American and Canadian names who have made their names in the Premier League, Bundesliga and beyond.

Clint Dempsey

Dempsey is one of the most successful Americans to have played  in the Premier League having made 275 appearances for London clubs Fulham and Tottenham. During his time in England, the midfielder, who could also play as a forward, was always a threat and scored on 72 occasions.

His influence at Craven Cottage was such that he helped Fulham reach the final of the Europa League in 2010 where they lost to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. Joining Spurs in 2012, he spent a season at White Hart Lane before returning to his homeland to play for the Seattle Sounders where he spent six years before retiring in 2018.

Dempsey earned 141 caps for the United States and scored 57 times, appearing at the World Cup for his country in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Alphonso Davies

The Bayern Munich star is one of the most talented players to come out of Canada in soccer history and was his nation’s talisman at the 2022 World Cup and scored their first-ever goal at the finals.

In Germany, he has won five Bundesliga titles, claimed the German Cup twice and even lifted the famous Champions League trophy in 2020 after the Bavarians defeated Paris Saint-Germain in the showpiece final.

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Despite still only being 23, Davies has already made 273 club appearances for Bayern and his first team, the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Davies is a supreme talent and is now being heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid and who knows, after winning so much with Bayern, he may fancy a new challenge in Spain.

Marco Fabian

Fabian joined Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt in December 2015 and was handed the iconic number ten shirt having moved to Germany.

The Millions athlete, who scored nine goals in 43 games for Mexico, spent three full years with the Eagles and helped the team lift the DFB-Pokal trophy in 2018.

Fabian was Frankfurt’s top scorer during the 2016-17 campaign and continued his fine form in Germany in the MLS after joining Philadelphia Union in 2019. Having briefly returned to Mexico, the attacking midfielder is now 34 and plays in Andorra.

Javier Hernandez

Nicknamed ‘Chicarito’ which translates into ‘little pea’, the striker earned a giant move to Manchester United in 2010 and impressed alongside Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand.

The diminutive Mexican forward scored 59 goals in 157 matches across the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League at Old Trafford and was a well-loved figure by supporters.

In 2015, he joined Real Madrid on loan before signing for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. He continued his impressive scoring record in the Bundesliga before returning to England to appear for West Ham. After a brief loan stint with Sevilla, Hernandez has spent the past four seasons with LA Galaxy in the MLS and has scored nearly a goal every two games.

Tim Howard

The goalkeeper  holds the record for most saves in a World Cup match and earned 121 caps for the United States and his domestic record in the Premier League is just as impressive.

In 2003, Howard left Metrostars in his homeland for Manchester United and made 77 appearances for the Red Devils under Sir Alex Ferguson. The American won the FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield during four years at Old Trafford.

Howard then joined Everton and spent ten seasons at Goodison Park, writing his name into the club’s history books by making 354 appearances in the top-flight.

Born in New Jersey, he also helped the Toffees reach the FA Cup final in 2009 where they were defeated by Chelsea.

Jonathan David

The Canadian striker is considered one of the top young strikers in Europe having netted 56 goals in 126 matches for Lille in Ligue 1. The frontman’s goals helped the French club pip PSG to the title in 2021.

David, who is still only 23, also boasts a stunning record internationally and has scored 26 goals in 45 matches. Should his scoring form continue, he will be linked with a big money move no doubt to one of Europe’s giants.

Summing Up

A number of soccer players from North America have gone to Europe and wowed fans with their talent and skill. From Tim Howard and Javier Hernandez at Manchester United to Marco Fabian and Alphonso Davies, many stars from Mexico, the United States and Canada have won silverware having crossed the Atlantic.

For North American soccer players, the opportunity to play at the highest level and compete against top talent is a major motivating factor in making the move to Europe. Additionally, the possibility of higher salaries and exposure to different playing styles and tactics also plays a role. Playing in Europe provides these players with a unique experience and exposure to a highly competitive environment, allowing for their continued development and potential for a successful career. However, North American players may face challenges such as adjusting to a new culture and language, different playing styles and physical demands on the field, as well as being away from family and friends off the field. Additionally, securing a work visa and navigating the complex international transfer process can also present obstacles.