Tammy Abraham, Chris Smalling and the Serie A Englishmen | football | Italy | Europa Conference League | Roma

The inaugural Europa Conference League final takes place on Wednesday night and there will be plenty of familiar faces for Premier League supporters. Roma manager Jose Mourinho will grab the headlines but there is a strong contingent of English players. Feyenoord have Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson on loan. But it’s Roma who will provide the majority of England’s stars, with Tammy Abraham, Chris Smalling and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all in contention.

Serie A has long been a home away from home for the footballing sons of England. A player from that island of scepter even lifted the Serie A title this season. Ex-Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori played a key role in AC Milan’s return to the top of Italian football.

To celebrate a superb season for the English Serie A stars, here’s a look back at some of the Three Lions legends who have made Italy their home.

Paul Gascoign

It’s hard to put into perspective just how popular Paul Gascoigne was when he joined Lazio from Tottenham Hotspur in 1992. “Gazza” was a phenomenon on the field that completely conquered the sport in a flood of tears at Italia 90. His return two years later to the country that cemented his legend was big news.

The move was huge for Serie A’s popularity in England. The iconic ‘Football Italia’ show on Channel 4 initially largely followed that of Gascoigne in Rome. As with everything that concerns the flawed genius, Gascoigne’s time at Lazio has been one of ups and downs.

An 89th-minute equalizer at the Stadio Olimpico against bitter rivals Roma was the highlight and Lazio’s fans took ‘Gazza’ to heart. Condition problems, injuries and personal struggles mean Serie A has never seen Gascoigne at his best, but without him a generation of English children would have missed out on their Italian football education.

Paul Ince

Ince, who was part of the England move inspired by Gascoigne’s move, swapped Old Trafford for San Siro in 1995. The struggling midfielder suffered a slow start which prompted him to consider a move back to the Premier League to Arsenal and Newcastle United in November. But rather than an untimely exit, ‘The Guvnor’ has prevailed in Serie A and enjoyed two rewarding seasons.

While Inter could only finish seventh in his debut season, Ince impressed in the Nerazzurri’s midfield. Inter improved in Ince’s second season, where he helped them finish third in Serie A and played in a UEFA Cup final. He was offered a contract extension but decided to return to England for family reasons and joined Liverpool.

Ashley Cole

The union of legendary Chelsea left-back with tonight’s finalists Roma is particularly memorable. Not for anything Cole accomplished on the pitch. The ex-Arsenal player’s Italian job never really caught fire as Cole only made 11 Serie A appearances for the Giallorossi. But Cole achieved viral ubiquity for a bizarre team photo in which he stands at an awkward angle several feet from his huddled teammates. The photo became an endlessly photoshopped meme sensation that lasted much longer than Cole’s Roma contract, which was canceled early the following season.

Ashley Young

Tomori isn’t the only Englishman to have gone to Milan and won the Scudetto in recent years. Ashley Young did it in the famous blue and black rather than AC Milan’s red and black. Many felt Young’s best days were behind him when he left Old Trafford in early 2020, but the winger-turned-full-back enjoyed a wonderful two-year stint at the San Siro.

Young thrived under Antonio Conte, reaching the Europa League final in his first season at the club. In his second, Inter broke Juventus’ nearly decade-long Serie A dominance to lift the league title. Young returned to the Premier League this season with Aston Villa aged 36. A perennial favorite.

David Beckham

Perhaps the most famous England player of all time, it seems only fitting that a player as fashion-forward as David Beckham played football in the city of Milan. Originally on loan from LA Galaxy to AC Milan to stay fit for the England squad during the MLS off-season, Beckham was a hit in Italy.

The extension of his loan drew the ire of LA Galaxy fans, but he was loved in Milan. So much so that he was loaned out again after the following MLS season. Beckham made 33 appearances for the Rossoneri, proving he can still be at the top of European football in his mid-30s.

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Quotas are subject to change

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