The Scottish League has been home to a host of exciting foreign players over the years. Many have honed their skills in Scotland before heading outside of the British Isles to leave their mark in Europe.
Despite the Scottish top flight being perceived as a less-glamorous league, Scottish football truly has accommodated some incredible footballing talent over the years, including the likes of Henrik Larsson, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Shunsuke Nakamura.
Below, we go through the five most exciting foreign imports to play their trade in the Scottish League. You can find the latest spread betting odds on Scottish football here.
- Lorenzo Amoruso (Rangers)
Lorenzo Amoruso first became captain at Fiorentina in 1995 before heading to Scotland to play for Glasgow Rangers where he made his biggest impact. The Italian defender spent six seasons with the club where he won three Scottish Premier League titles, as well as completing two domestic trebles.
He would also go on to become the first Roman Catholic to captain the club in 1999, however, he was often prone to defensive errors and was stripped of the captaincy in 2000 by manager Dick Advocaat.
Amoruso was certainly a controversial figure too, having admitted to making racial remarks towards Borussia Dortmund forward Victor Ipkeba, despite insisting that he wasn’t a racist. A controversial career to say the least.
- Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic)
The impact that Japanese playmaker Nakamura had on both Celtic and Scottish football cannot be overstated. The 44-year-old only retired last year from football and that is a testament to his fitness levels and dedication as an athlete throughout his career.
Nakamura arrived at Celtic Park in 2005 for a fee of £2 million from Reggina and was the catalyst that manager Gordon Strachan needed to turn around his club’s fortunes. After providing 16 goal contributions in his maiden campaign in Parkhead, Nakamura helped Celtic to the Scottish Premier League title and a Scottish League Cup win.
However, it was the following season where he would leave the biggest impact. He scored two outstanding free kicks against Manchester United in the Champions League, the first meaning he became the first Japanese player to have scored in the competition, and the second one at Celtic Park that sent his side into the knockouts for the first time in their history.
Receiving a nomination for the Ballon d’Or in 2007 too, Nakamura also secured Celtic’s second successive league title, as well as the Scottish Player of the Year and Scottish Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year awards. Nakamura was also pivotal in enhancing Celtic’s reputation and image across the world, particularly in the Far East.
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- Stiliyan Petrov (Celtic)
A household name for many Premier League fans too, Stiliyan Petrov first made his mark for Celtic before heading to Aston Villa in 2006. John Barnes acquired the Bulgarian’s services in 1999 and despite a difficult start to life in Parkhead, Petrov would eventually go on to become a hero in Scottish football.
He enjoyed a shining season under Martin O’Neill where he would go on to win the treble during the 2000/01 campaign, as well as winning Scotland’s Young Player of the Year award, becoming the first foreign player to do so.
The 2002/03 season would be the peak for Petrov in Scotland, however, recording his best-ever goal scoring season with 14 goals in all competitions, as well as reaching the only ever European final of his career.
Petrov would win his final league title with Celtic in 2006 before heading to Villa Park for £8 million, being reunited with manager O’Neill in the Premier League.
- Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Rangers)
Despite a successful start to his career with home club Feyenoord, Van Bronckhorst would ply his trade at Rangers before securing big moves elsewhere in Europe. The midfielder arrived at Ibrox in 1998 and would spend three seasons in Scotland before making a move to Arsenal in 2001.
Trophies followed Van Bronckhorst wherever he went and that was the case at Rangers too. In his first season, the Dutchman won the domestic treble, also scoring a total of ten goals from the centre of midfield.
Van Bronckhorst was known for his fine technical ability in the middle of the park and for his long-range screamers. Although, he may be most known around the world for showcasing that ability outside of Scotland.
Arsene Wenger acquired his services for £8 million and would go on to win the Premier League and FA Cup for the Gunners before moving to Barcelona in 2003. In Spain, Van Bronckhorst also won two La Liga titles, as well as the Champions League in 2006, defeating his former side Arsenal in the final.
Truly one of the greats in European football throughout the 2000s, if it wasn’t for a successful foundation at Rangers where he was able to hone his skills, Van Bronckhorst may have never gone on to achieve so much later on in his career.
- Henrik Larsson (Celtic)
Considered as one of the best players to have ever played in the league, Larsson tops this list as the most exciting foreign import to ply their trade in Scotland. Having also played at Feyenoord like Van Bronckhorst, Larsson moved to Celtic in 1997 for a mere £650,000.
Larsson won four league titles during his time at Celtic and would amass an incredible 174 league goals over just seven seasons. The Swede was also magnificent in Europe whilst at Celtic Park too, scoring an impressive 35 goals in 56 games.
Despite scoring twice in Celtic’s 2003 UEFA Cup final against Porto, the Hoops would go on to suffer a 3-2 defeat after extra time. Nevertheless, Larsson had proved his world-class ability to the rest of the world.
Despite staying loyal to Celtic for a number of years, the 2004 Swedish Footballer of the Year would eventually leave Scotland for Barcelona, joining up with the aforementioned Van Bronckhorst. It will certainly take some doing to be able to topple Larsson as the best ever footballer to play in Scotland.