Premier League only had 13 foreign players in 1992: Craig Forrest and Michel Vonk explain what happened to them | Football news

There were 113 different nations on the pitch in the Premier League era but 30 years ago, on the tournament’s opening weekend, there were only 13 players in total from the British Isles.

To show the scale of the change, consider the fact that in this first round, only 17 players from Brazil competed.

Today, the Premier League is a globalized game. That’s a huge part of its appeal, possibly becoming the league of the world.

Back then, for all the fuss before the competition restarted, the promotional advert featured a player from each of the 22 clubs that included only one foreigner – the Dutch goalkeeper. of Wimbledon, Hans Segers.

What does it mean for those 13 men to play in the Premier League and how does English football feel about them?

The original 13 foreign players in the Premier League

Eric Cantona (Leeds United), Gunnar Halle (Oldham Athletic), John Jensen (Arsenal), Andrei Kanchelskis (Manchester United), Anders Limpar (Arsenal), Roland Nilsson (Sheffield Wednesday), Ronnie Rosenthal (Liverpool), Peter Schmeichel (Manchester) United), Hans Segers (Wimbledon), Jan Stejskal (Queens Park Rangers), Robert Warzycha (Everton) and Michel Vonk (Manchester City)

When Diego Carlos signed for Aston Villa this summer, he still had to adapt to a new environment. But that experience would certainly have been easier with the two Brazilian players already on the team. The rest of them were used to having comrades from elsewhere.

That was not the situation of the original 13.

And some of them have it worse than others.

Craig Forrest said: “Becoming Canadian is a big black spot for me. Sports sky.

“If I were Forrestinho from Brazil, I could get a trial much faster!”

Forrest was just 24 years old when the Premier League started but this son of a Vancouver firefighter has been in the country since he was a teenager and will make over 300 appearances for English football.

He was Ipswich’s goalkeeper in his first season in the Premier League, then played for West Ham and Chelsea. His new life in Suffolk feels like a long way from home – because it is.

“It was a culture shock, okay. It’s not like today when you’re connected. You’re disconnected. My landlady locked her phone because she didn’t trust me. It took from 50p to £1 a minute to call Canada, it’s really expensive.

“I have a £25 a week contract on YTS. My landlady makes £35. When I talk to my family we don’t waste a second. It’s my only option. That’s it. and mail.”

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Craig Forrest makes a save
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Forrest has made more than 300 appearances for English football

As a result, Forrest had no choice but to plunge into life in England – and the peculiarities of the dressing room.

“Most of the players are from working-class areas and there are a lot of jokes.

The English countryside, on the other hand, was not the most cosmopolitan environment for a player London would later call home. But Forrest believes Ipswich’s rich tradition of accepting foreign stars has helped him gain acceptance at the club.

“Ipswich had a history because Bobby Robson brought in Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren. There was criticism that they wouldn’t be able to play in this tough league but they were excellent. So I think Ipswich is open. than other clubs.”

The influence of those Dutchmen in changing perceptions could have been a factor in bringing another of the original 13 to the Premier League.

Michel Vonk is a Dutch centre-back who switched Dordrecht to Manchester City in 1992 and found himself thrust into this new world.

“It was an adventure,” Vonk said Sports sky.

“I only watched English football on television and before 1992, I had only been to the UK once before. I didn’t know much about what was going to happen.”

He remembers small differences.

“On match day, there were fans entering the dressing room just before the match to take pictures and get autographs. This was not done in the Netherlands.

“The way the whole team prepares for the game is completely different from what I’m used to. The players will warm up individually or take a hot shower, play two-touch ball in the dressing room with a line of medical bandages used. used to bring a court.”

He remembers a Manchester City team with “lots of character” and only fond memories of the move but this is not the era of campaigners and player liaison officers.

Vonk has been handed a four-year contract and is expected to adapt. He spent three months in a hotel in Salford Quays and spent most of the rest to fend for himself in a new country.

“I had to arrange a lot of things myself so there were challenges, things to arrange. I had to find a place to live, a bank account and sort out the insurance. I needed to get a car and study. drive in reverse.road side is good!

“Manchester is different from where I came from. There’s the whole British way of life, culture. But pretty quickly I got in and felt comfortable.”

Michel Vonk of Manchester City
Manchester City Vonk joined the club from Dordrecht in 1992

Those are challenges off the pitch but there are adjustments on the pitch as well. Football has become much more homogeneous today, due to the influx of talent around the world, but the different styles of play were more apparent in 1992.

“First of all, I come from Dutch football,” explains Vonk. “We didn’t play the game the same way they did in England at the time with a flat back four. In our football we play with a sweeper and three defenders. I have to adjust. correct this.”

It can be a harsh environment.

“Charlie Woods, a coach at Ipswich, caught up with me very quickly,” Forrest added. “He said to me, ‘This isn’t fun. If you make a mistake, you’ll be out of here on the flight back to Canada really.’ The match became really serious for me very quickly. “

Unlike Vonk, Forrest was around for a while in 1992. But Ipswich was already one of the teams to be promoted to the top tier for its first Premier League campaign. That means it feels fresh – even if the scale of the change to come is not so obvious.

“We considered it a name change. We definitely wanted to go back to the top tier. But then it evolved into a new animal. Now we can see it’s a tossinger. diaphragm.”

Wimbledon player Vinnie Jones nailed a Wimbledon shirt to his image on a billboard advertising his first Premier League season in July 1992 after rejoining the club
Wimbledon’s Vinnie Jones nailed a Wimbledon shirt to his image on a billboard advertising the first Premier League season after his return to the club

Scrutiny is not always welcome. Forrest was part of the teams that won promotion and contributed to many victories but the most famous match of his long career was an unfortunate one. He scored as Manchester United won 9-0 over Ipswich.

He can laugh about it now.

“Whenever anyone scores four or five in the first half hour, my phone and Twitter start to light up.” Are you watching this? Maybe today is the day? “That United game was something else. If I didn’t have that game no one would remember me.

“George Burley’s talk was that Manchester United wouldn’t expect us to attack. He was right. They didn’t expect us to attack! We’re pushing halfway and Ryan Giggs is the fastest man alive at the moment. at that time. It was a strange game.”

Vonk can share some more fun memories.

“I’m the first Dutch player to score in the Premier League,” he said proudly.

But his most famous game in the competition was probably his first. Vonk played in the Premier League’s first Monday Night Football, the 1-1 draw between Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers at Maine Road.

“I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Manchester City. I look back with pride that I played for this beautiful club. In fact I was one of 13 expats who played in the opening week of the club. The Premier League is something that’s going to happen remember.”

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As both men reflect on the changes they have seen in the Premier League era, it can be seen that the two clubs they represented in 1992 went in different directions.

Vonk said: “It is amazing to see where City are now as a club.

“The days of Maine Road are long gone. But the beauty of it is that they play great football. I’m a true fan of Pep Guardiola’s style of play. The cherry on the cake will win the championship. Champions League They were very close to the semi-final against Real Madrid.

“For me personally, I have been back there many times since leaving the UK in 1998. The city has invited me back a few times and has been very kind and welcoming to me during my stay. . People still remember me and ask for those pictures. It feels good.”

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Forrest has seen Ipswich drop everything and the Premier League transform into something very different. “Every athlete thinks they were born a little too early,” he said. “I’ve made more money on the bench at West Ham than ever at Ipswich.”

However, the zero on bank balances is less conspicuous than the biggest change in the past thirty years. Forrest experienced it first.

“One of my last games was against Liverpool when I was on loan at Chelsea. I think we have Jody Morris and Steve Clarke at the club but the rest are all foreign players.

“I think there are 23 different nationalities in the two teams.”

For a member of the original 13, it has been confirmed that this is a converted game.

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