YA History: Looking up some first, notables, and more for posterity's sake

Discussion in 'Yanks Abroad' started by Dave Marino-Nachison, Jun 5, 2021.

  1. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    To assuage my own curiosity I recently dug through old files to try to figure out what some notable authoritative YA "firsts," among other things, I might be able to find, particularly from before the "modern era" of 1990/1994 and MLS.

    To that end, I've started a spreadsheet that I'll keep updating as I get stuff. I consider the work pretty preliminary at this point, and VERY far from authoritative. I would love your help, corrections, additions and suggestions!

    Meanwhile, to get you started:
    • The "first of firsts" might be American-born Julian Sturgis, who won the FA Cup in ... 1873. That's before many of us were even born.

    • American-born Billy Andrews could be the first such player to be capped by another country -- Ireland, in his case, in the aughts of the last century.

    • American-born Eddy Hamel, whose sad and interesting story is widely told online, seems to be the first known Yank at Ajax and, for that matter, in the Dutch top division.

    • James Brown naturalized, but he played for Manchester United after doing so, making him the first known Yank at that club.

    • American-born Alfonso Negro may or may not be the first such player to play in Italy (he appears to have preceded several other guys of the same era but not by much) but it looks like he's the first to play in the top division there and, for that matter, to play for Italy.

    • I'm guessing American-born Lloyd Monsen won't turn out to be the first such player to play in Germany, which he did in the early 1950s, but I haven't found anything earlier. Manfred Seissler played in a Bundesliga precursor some years later but wasn't a citizen at the time. Hungarian-born Andy Mate WAS a citizen when he played in the Bundesliga after that.

    • The France info seems a bit confusing to me. Joe Gaetjens is said to have never become a citizen, and I'll let you decide how pedantic you want to be about that, but he played in the top division there after playing for the U.S. Ilija Mitic was not yet a citizen when he played in that league. After that, I'm not sure would be next -- David Regis?
    • I haven't found much info at all on early Americans playing in Spain. Seems hard to believe Peter Vermes would be first.
    There's more stuff. I'll be putting it here:

  2. felloveranddidanadu

    Plymouth Argyle FC
    Dec 12, 2009
    San Jose Frogs
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    James Brown played for Man U *and then* went on to have a hugely successful musical career? What a talent!
  3. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    Here's an interesting one that has been noted before -- American-born Dale Mulholland, who spent a season in the Soviet Union. He is generally considered the first player to do so; no idea if he's the only one.

    The NYT wrote in 1990:

    Dale Mulholland, a 25-year old American Soccer League player who spent last season with the Orlando Lions, said he had signed a contract to become the first American to play with Locomotiv Moscow, one of 22 professional teams in the Soviet Union. Mulholland, who played for the University of Puget Sound before turning pro, said he had spent four years prodding American and Soviet officials to make his dream come true.
    An AP story from 1991 called him the first foreigner to play in that league and included this remarkable tale:

    "Every time we go abroad on tour, the players turn into businessmen," says Mulholland, 26. "They spend all their time trading with teams to accumulate Western goods."

    His favorite story is about one enterprising goalkeeper who bought three photocopiers while touring Singapore.

    When he got back to Moscow, he swapped them for a small house in the country.​

    From the Tampa Tribune, in 1991:

    ""I was fortunate because the Soviet railway minister was the minister of Lokomotiv, and he found an apartment for me on the Moscow River,'' Mulholland said.

    ""I got an apartment that was small by American standards but great by their standards. We had a special food shop around the corner and Lokomotiv would send a box of food home with me - orange juice, coffee, sugar, milk - all the things people couldn't get in the food stores.

    ""Everything you see and read about people starving in Russia is true. There is a great hunger. I couldn't tell them what I really felt sometimes.''

    Mulholland and his Russian-born wife, Katya, shared a kitchen with 30 other people in that Moscow apartment.
    His current whereabouts:

  4. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    Actually -- maybe it's not so confusing. American-born John Donoghue, who played mostly in the 1920s and 30s, seems likely to be the first American in the French top flight. He might also be the first American at Celtic.
  5. BostonRed

    BostonRed Member+

    Oct 9, 2011
    Somerville, MA
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    A couple of related players though they are Puerto Rican:


    Eduardo Ordóñez Munguira who played with Atletico Madrid & Real Madrid from 1927 to 1932.

    Augustus Vicente Calixto Ozores Iriarte, who played at FC Barcelona between 1914-1917. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in March 1917, so it's possible he played as a US citizen (even if he wasn't going to claim to be so).
  6. BostonRed

    BostonRed Member+

    Oct 9, 2011
    Somerville, MA
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    His 3rd career as an NFL broadcaster is similarly impressive.
  7. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    Not that I've spent a lot of time looking into American players in Ukraine, but I've only recently learned about American-born Bohdan Nedilsky, who apparently played for a club there in 1991 just before the country's independence. There's a lot of interesting stuff linked from his Wiki page.
  8. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
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  9. freisland

    freisland Member+

    Jan 31, 2001
    I bet that Melrose Place guy was the first to play in Zimbabwe. Well, first to play in Zimbabwe and be on Melrose Place anyway...
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  10. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
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  11. keller4president

    Jan 5, 2006
    Steve Potts may have been the first American-born player to play in England in the modern era (since the 1950s). Started playing at West Ham in 1985. We probably could have used him at the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups, if we had known about him.


    After Potts, the next Americans in England were John Kerr (Canadian-American), Roy Wegerle, and John Harkes.



    Claudio Reyna was second in Scottish league (1999), after John Donoghue in the 1920s.




    Erwin Kostedde had an American father and played in Germany in the 1960s and 70s.

    Another son of an American was Maurice Banach.


    Peter Dani:

    Danish Superliga

    Peter Woodring and Mike Burns were first in Danish Superliga (1994-95). Brad Friedel also signed in Denmark in 95, but didn't play.



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  12. keller4president

    Jan 5, 2006
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  13. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Jun 9, 1999
    #13 Dave Marino-Nachison, Oct 13, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
    Thanks for that, @keller4president.

    I hadn't spent a lot of time looking into Scotland stuff, but I believe American-born (and former USMNT) GK David Brcic played in the top division for Greenock Morton in the late '70s, well before Reyna. Was he the "first" in the modern era? I dunno for sure... (Was Gil Heron a U.S. citizen? I don't know, but it seems at least possible.)

    Generally, when I see a really long gap in the data, I assume it's wrong and I just haven't found the right answer yet. You may be right about Denmark, I don't have anything better in my records right now though I haven't looked into Scandinavia much at all.

    I suspect there is more to the story in Germany for sure -- just seems hard to believe there wasn't more going on there post-WW2. Of course, Kostedde and Magath are still important figures. Banach's story is very sad.
  14. keller4president

    Jan 5, 2006
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  15. DirectK

    DirectK Member

    United States
    Jun 27, 2018
    The first Jewish player at Ajax was an American born in New York City. He was killed in Auschwitz during World War II.

    ETA: I see @Dave Marino-Nachison flagged this in the first post but I still think it's worth surfacing since it's circulating online today.
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