Celebrating the EFL icon that’s turned into prime Ronaldo in the MLS

Forget David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard; the best English footballing export to America is a self-styled ‘fat lad from Sheffield’ that’s made the MLS his own playground.

Billy Sharp has been around forever. He made his debut for Sheffield United in the 2004-05 season, when Tony Blair was Prime Minister of Great Britain and before the invention of YouTube, never mind Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

The striker has barely left the Football League since. Doncaster Rovers, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Leeds United have all employed Sharp as an exterminator of lower-league defences.

On 1 January 2019, Sharp scored his 220th goal and became the leading English born goalscorer in English professional football during the 21st century to date, overtaking the record set by the Don Juan of water, Rickie Lambert.

After guiding his beloved Blades to promotion last season, Sharp made the surprising move to LA Galaxy this summer. For all of his aptitude in front of goal, it was still hard to picture the 37-year-old Stateside.

“Billy is an accomplished striker who brings experience, leadership and proven goal-scoring pedigree,” saidGalaxy Head Coach and Sporting Director Greg Vanney. “We are pleased to add a player of Billy’s caliber to the team for the stretch run of the season.”

The veteran forward has taken to life in MLS following his shock move from Sheffield United after their promotion back to the top tier. Effectively a replacement for Javier Hernandez, the 37-year-old has proven a real handful for opposition defences since moving to America.

With two goals in his opening four appearances, the Yorkshireman was in razor sharp form (sorry) before the derby against LAFC.

And he continued his metamorphis into prime Ronaldo with a superb finish in El Trafico. Seconds after the opposition taken the lead, Sharp latched onto a clever through ball and produced the kind of turn patented by Zinedine Zidane.

Forget the absence of defenders. Sharp would’ve wriggled his way out of a phone box with those hips. The finish was inevitable and clinical, just like the hundreds he’s scored across wet and windy English grounds.

Speaking of the team’s chances of making the all-important playoffs as the regular season reaches its final phase, Sharp said: “It’s in our own hands, we know what we have to do.”

“There’s a lot of things that have come out of this stretch,” Vanney added. “They’ve taken a lot of punches over the course of the season, between guys getting injured and other things going on and around but they’ve remained resilient.

“We keep finding ways to get results and today, [after] the bad start, we still managed to get a result out of it. We understand though, that in the [final] stretch that one point at a time isn’t going to get us to where we need to get to.”

While La Galaxy supporters marvel at the exploits of their new hero, English fans will be following Sharp’s quest to conquer America with surprised eyes and full hearts.

By Michael Lee

You can watch every single MLS match from wherever you are in the world with an MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

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