Top 10: North Americans Abroad

Wednesday 17 July 2013 08:50

In the past, Fulham have found success by recruiting players from North America (the United States and Canada). Now, as we welcome new American-based owner Shahid Khan, we count down some of those players who began their careers across the pond.

Paul Peschisolido - 1997-2001

Canada international Peschisolido became the first £1m player at Fulham when joining from West Bromwich Albion in October 1997. During a three-and-a-half year spell at the Cottage he went on to make 117 appearances for the Whites and scored 13 goals in 34 starts in his first season at the Club. Beginning his career in Canada with the Toronto Blizzard, the striker used his Italian passport to join the Juventus youth setup as a teenager and impressed at Birmingham City and Stoke City before landing in SW6. Arriving as the Mohamed Al Fayed revolution began, Peschisolido played his part in our promotion to Division One, and told the official website last year: “Getting promoted was fabulous and we had a party to celebrate that on the top floor of Harrods... It was the most incredible party ever and, just like my time at Fulham, I absolutely loved it.”

Marcus Hahnemann - 1999-2002

Hahnemann became the first American player to join Fulham when he arrived in England in 1999 after spells with the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids. The goalkeeper was limited to just four appearances - and a double loan spell at Rochdale and Reading - as he played a back-up role to regular number one Maik Taylor, but told the Express and Star in 2010: “I was indebted to them [Fulham] for giving me a chance - they were my first club over here and we had a great time. From day one, everyone was super good to us but it was just one of those things where I just never got to play.”

Eddie Lewis - 2000-02

Arriving at Fulham ahead of the 2000/01 season, Lewis made an impact in his first few games but was utilised more as a squad player as we sealed promotion to the Premiership. Claiming that it was a dream to make the move abroad from the San Jose Earthquakes, where he had played his entire career, Lewis revealed: “I just want to thank the fans and the team for all their support. I have greatly enjoyed my time as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes. I feel great things are in store for them, but it has been my lifelong dream to play overseas, and the Earthquakes and MLS have allowed that dream to become a reality.” After leaving SW6, he stayed in England with a host of clubs before ending his career with David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Tomas Radzinski 2004-07

Already an established Premiership player when he moved to Fulham from Everton, Radzinski netted six goals in 25 appearances in his first season and went on to play over 100 games for the Club. After being born in Poland, Radzinski moved to Canada and started his professional career in the Canadian Soccer League before he followed in the footsteps of Peschisolido by joining Fulham (via Belgian side Anderlecht). The striker became a fan favourite by scoring some important goals for the Club – most notably the winner over Arsenal in 2006/07 – and his versatility and pace were a key part of cementing Fulham’s place in the top flight.

Carlos Bocanegra 2004-08

Spotted by the Fulham scouts while playing for the United States in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Bocanegra was snapped up on a free transfer the following year and revealed he “just wanted a change and wanted to try and play in Europe” after four years with the Chicago Fire. An interview in 2004 demonstrated his eagerness to play for the Whites, when he said: “Fulham is a great club and (manager) Chris Coleman seems like a great guy. I'm confident that I can compete at this level, and I think it's going to be a great challenge.” Indeed, the no-nonsense defender had been named MLS Defender of the Year for two consecutive seasons and he quickly cemented his place in our starting XI, rose to become captain and showed a knack for scoring goals when he bagged five in 26 games in 2006/07 - ensuring that he finished the season as the second top scorer.

Brian McBride 2004-08

It takes a special player to have a part of the famous Craven Cottage named after them and the presence of McBride’s Bar in the Riverside Stand proves what an impact the striker had. Starting his career in the minor leagues with Milwaukee Rampage, he impressed for the US national side before spells at VfL Wolfsburg, Columbus Crew, Preston North End and Everton. We were fifth in the league at the time we lost Louis Saha to Manchester United, with Chris Coleman reinforcing his attacking options with the addition of McBride for an undisclosed fee. To date, Coleman insists: “He (Brian) came in and did an unbelievable job for us, so pound for pound I’d have to say Brian McBride was my best signing.” Netting 40 goals in 153 games for the Club, McBride became a firm fan favourite before departing Craven Cottage to return to the MLS for Chicago Fire after the ‘Great Escape’ of 2008. He said: “I take great pride in the fact that my last appearance for Fulham saw the Club maintain its Premier League status. I leave with some wonderful memories from my time at Fulham and the Club will always be in my heart.”

Kasey Keller 2007-08

One of a number of top goalkeepers to have emerged from the United States, Keller made over 100 appearances for his national team before opting to move to Fulham in 2007. Having started at the Portland Timbers, he played for Leicester City, Millwall, Rayo Vallecano and Tottenham Hotspur before a trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach saw him arrive in West London. As a 37-year-old, his time at the Club was always going to be short but he was delighted to return and said: “It's fantastic to be back in the Premier League after a couple of years’ absence.” At Fulham, he was between the posts as we sealed our top flight status with a 1-0 win over Portsmouth in 2008 as his final game.

Clint Dempsey - 2007-12

Dempsey netted 21 league goals in his first three-and-a-half seasons at Craven Cottage and added 29 more in his final two campaigns at the club, which saw him win Fulham’s Player of the Season award twice and gain plaudits from all corners. One of the most successful US imports in Premier League history, he became the first American player to score a hat-trick in the league when he bagged three in the 5–2 win over Newcastle United in January 2012. “I play with a lot of heart and every time I go out on the field I do all I can to help get that win, whether it’s for Fulham or the US,” Dempsey told at the time.

Paul Stalteri – 2008

Although he was only at Fulham for half a season on loan, Canada international Stalteri made a big impact on the fans. The emotional rollercoaster that was the 2007/08 season saw Stalteri arrive from Tottenham on 31st January 2008 to play 14 games (all but one of the remaining fixtures that season) and helped us to maintain our top flight status in dramatic fashion. “Even though I was there on loan it felt like it was my team and it was my Club, so it was a real moment of pride for me when we stayed up. That remains a big highlight and a big talking point for me in my career, helping to save Fulham from being pretty much relegated with five games to go,” he told the official website in April.

Emerson Hyndman - 2011-present

It has been a few years since the Club signed a North American player, but the future looks to be in good hands with young midfielder Hyndman. Since arriving from FC Dallas, the 17-year-old has been a key player in the success of the Fulham Under-18 side that won the Premier League title last season and also walked away from the prestigious Dallas Cup with the trophy. He recently put pen to paper on a contract extension that saw him commit his future to the Club until 2016.

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