IT would be worthwhile, for any young British footballer contemplating plying their trade away from home, to familiarise themselves with Stiliyan Petrov’s experience of acclimatising to a foreign country.

The Bulgarian arrived in Scotland as a fresh faced 20-year-old, signed by the then Celtic manager John Barnes for £2.8 million. 

He was accompanied by fellow countryman Milen Petkov. However, Petkov soon returned to Bulgaria after failing to settle in Glasgow.

Unable to speak English [Glaswegian to be more precise] was a major factor in Petrov himself struggling to adapt to his new surroundings.

The midfielder found himself being played out of position but could not articulate his concerns with management or teammates. 

His difficulties were not restricted to matters on the field.  Upon returning to his apartment after training or matchdays he found himself crying, lying on the floor hitting the floorboards.

With the assistance of a Scottish friend, who owned a burger van, the player who went on to captain Aston Villa, as well as earn over 100 caps for his country, worked in the mobile food unit.

These were his first steps in learning a new language, which would ultimately help him overcome loneliness and improve his wellbeing.

Petrov, starring for the Rest of the World Team at the Star Sixes earlier this month, encourages young Brits to look further afield in search for more playing time.

He said: “My advice for them is to go out and explore the world. It’s not going to be easy but you have to embrace change and a new environment.

“Being patient is very important, especially when you’re young.  Keep working hard and your opportunity will come. It may not come straight away but you have to stay motivated.

"When you get your chance, you have to be physically and mentally ready to take it.  Don’t worry what people will think back home. Be confident in your ability.”

Germany has become a popular destination for young English footballers frustrated with the lack of first team opportunities in England’s leading divisions. Currently Jadon Sancho is the trailblazer. 

The 18-year-old’s form at Borussia Dortmund since leaving Manchester City in a £8 million deal in 2017, has given others the motivation to follow his example.

At the time of writing Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odio has handed in a transfer request and could potentially join Sancho in the Bundesliga. 

Bayern Munich’s last bid for the 18-year-old came in at £35 million.

If Hudson-Odio does join the former European Champions, it’s unlikely that he will be found on the Marienplatz serving Bratwurst to tourists in a bid to learn German.

Alan McInally spent four years with Bayern from 1989-1993. 

Performing media duties for Star Sixes sponsors, the Scot reminisced at his time in Germany.

He said: “I went over there in the nineties and back then not many of the Germans spoke English. It would be a very different case now. Football has become more global. Teams are now more mixed with different nationalities.

“When I signed only three or four of the players spoke English. Stefan Effenberg was one of them. However Uli Hoeness [general manager] was adamant that I had to learn the language. He didn’t want Jupp Heynckes [manager] to go around the dressing room with a translator.

“I couldn’t have this mindset that because English is the global language, I wouldn’t have to make an effort [to learn German].  Germany had recently won the World Cup and seven or eight of the Bayern team had comeback from Italy with winners’ medals.

“They had nothing to prove to me. I had to prove myself to them.  There was a further complication as Munich is based in Bavaria, so I had to understand Bavarian. I suppose a similar example would be if a foreign player came to play in Scotland.  Ask some foreign players and they will tell you Scottish and English are not always the same thing!

“If you don’t make an effort with the language, it won’t go unnoticed by the management. If you can’t even learn how to order a coffee, then they will question your overall commitment.  Is this a player who is really going to contribute to the team?  Are they really going to dig us out of hole?” 

The former Ayr United and Aston Villa player believes the number of young English players moving abroad can only help Gareth Southgate.

He added: “Playing in a league like the Bundesliga can only make you better. 

"Technically there isn’t too much difference compared to my time, but you are still exposed to a different mentality, different perspectives.  I would personally encourage youngsters to look at playing in Germany.

“You also learn more about yourself. You mature quicker especially when mum and dad are not just ten minutes down to road. From a Scottish perspective look at Paul Lambert at Dortmund, winning the Champions League. It was the best move of his career and he came back a better player and that was good news for Celtic and Scotland.

“So far Sancho has been very impressive. If he stays consistent and others begin to follow suit then that will ultimately benefit the English national team.”