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Friday July 19 2019
Kieran Trippier: an Englishman in Madrid

Kieran Trippier’s move to Atlético Madrid unites him to a select group of Englishmen who have dared to embrace La Liga, writes David Whitworth.

Atlético Madrid recently raised eyebrows with the signing of England International Kieran Trippier for €22m. The 28-year-old right-back from Bury signed a three year deal - swapping London for Madrid.

A talented footballer with over 200 club appearances, Trippier first footballing experience came at the academy of Manchester City but he was not able to make the breakthrough into the first team. He came to prominence on loan firstly at Barnsley - winning their Young Player of the Year award in 2010/11 season. His next stop would be at Burnley, where he would continue his footballing development. He played for three seasons at the Turf Moor outfit and was named the clubs Player of the Year in 2011/12 before excelling further at Tottenham Hotspur, where he would continue for four seasons - racking up 69 appearances with two goals to his name.

Indeed, the cultured right back started and played his last game for Spurs in this years Champions League Final with the irony the final having been staged in the Wanda Metropolitano - the home of Trippier’s new club, Atlético Madrid. The ironies of how football works in mysterious ways. Trippier becomes Atlético’s first Englishman in 95 years and there will be much interest and intrigue into how he adapts to life not just on the field, but off it too.

His move to the Spanish capital makes him the 20th Englishman to step foot in La Liga. In terms of his predecessors, he follows a band who have drawn a mixed bag in terms of having success in Spain. Trippier follows on from the likes of Gary Lineker at Barcelona, Laurie Cunningham, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate at Real Madrid, Peter Barnes for Real Betis, Jermaine Pennant from his stint in Real Zaragoza and Vinny Samways, who flew the flag with great distinction at Las Palmas and Sevilla.

But why are there so few English footballers who have graced La Liga? Various factors are at play. Bravery can be attributed to being one of the prime factors - players unwilling to step out of their comfort zone of their comfy family life to learn a whole new culture and of course the language barrier. A lack of an undoubted successful Englishman abroad being another reason with players doubting the move abroad all the way up to Jadon Sancho becoming the modern-day trailblazer making the foreign route more attractive and in vogue.

There is no doubt that Trippier has the talent and experience to succeed. Although he didn’t perform well last season in the Premier League, he has been a great player in the Premier League and he was arguably England’s standout performer at the 2018 World Cup with his expert dead ball assists, marauding attacking runs and exceptional crossing deliveries.

What he will have to do at Atlético, however, is step up his game. He will simply have to under the strict, aggressive, intense and demanding fighter football style of new boss Diego Simeone, and he will be expected to be combative and press the rival, as well as be graceful and add quality to the ranks.

But most of all, he will have to immerse himself in the culture of the city and will be expected to learn the language to fully integrate with his teammates and know the philosophy of the boss. A must on face value but some don’t head that particular advice.

He has an immense opportunity to shine for one of La Liga’s heavyweight clubs and from a personal perspective, broaden his horizons and savour a fantastic adventure living abroad - a factor the player himself said was crucial to his decision: “It is an amazing feeling. I have always wanted to play abroad and what a place to play in Madrid.”

His bravery to conquer Spanish football must be respected and admired as so few have trodden this particular foreign path and, as importantly, have done it to great distinction. Therefore, Atlético’s new defender has a fresh opportunity to buck the trend to prove that an Englishman can rule in La Liga.

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