It’s not unusual for a Premier League team to sign a player from another European country. After all, there are many talented footballers across the Channel, sometimes stuck at teams that don’t offer them the possibility to shine and perhaps even lead the odds for a top goalscorer at Betway. But it’s rather unusual for a Premier League team to sign a player from English-speaking countries overseas. African and South American players routinely show up in the squads of English teams, but the same can’t be said about Aussie and American ones. But it happens – and it has happened quite a few times at West Ham, too.
Ian Feuer started his youth career at the Las Vegas Generals from where he went on to play with the Belgian side Club Brugge. He started his senior career with the same team, briefly returning to the US to play with the Los Angeles Salsa before joining West Ham in 1994. After two unsuccessful years with the team, he played with several US and UK teams, including another short time spent with West Ham in 2000. Ultimately, he settled at the Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2002, the year he retired. During his career, he stepped in the playfield 209 times but hasn’t scored any goals.
US player John Harkes spent a year on loan at West Ham, playing in 12 games but not scoring once in the 1995-1996 season. Which is strange, because after he moved on to D.C. United a year later, he became pretty good, playing 83 matches and scoring 14 goals in the coming two years. He retired from the MLS side Columbus Crew and continued as a manager.
Last but not least, let us mention Jonathan Spector, born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from the US’s Bradenton Academy and played with various local teams before joining the youth team of Manchester United. He spent three years there as a senior before moving on to West Ham – he appeared in 101 matches for the team but has scored only once. From West Ham, Spector moved on to Birmingham City, then returned to the US to play for the MLS side Orlando City last year.
Hayden Foxe was a talented young defender who spent most of his youth career at Ajax Amsterdam. As a senior, he played with teams like Arminia Bielefeld and Sanfrecce Hiroshima before spending two (unfortunately goalless) seasons at West Ham. Ultimately, he returned to his native Sydney to play for the local football club before retiring and continuing as a manager.
Finally, another Aussie player who doesn’t sound like that at all: Richard Garcia. The Perth native spent two years with the youth team of West Ham United and further five as a senior before moving on to League Two side Colchester United, Hull City, then returning to Australia and playing for several local teams. Ultimately, he returned to his native Perth and took over as captain of Perth Glory before announcing his retirement from professional football last May.