England Coach Sammy Lee has raised a toast to the new relationship between England and Spain.
England Coach Sammy Lee has raised a toast to the new relationship between England and Spain - and believes Real Madrid's 'Tres Leones' will love their time in the sun.
Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate have now joined David Beckham in Madrid, highlighting the growing relationship between the two countries and making it Three Lions at the Bernabeu.
Only a handful of Englishmen have made a success of playing in Spain in the past, and even fewer Spaniards have graced the Premiership.
But all of a sudden things are changing. Arsenal have Jose Reyes, Middlesbrough have Gaizka Mendietta, Liverpool have Antonio Nunez, Josemi, Luis Garcia and maybe soon Xabi Alonso, too.
So no wonder England coach Lee, who was one of the original English trailblazers when he played for Osasuna between August 1987 and January 1990, is excited.
"Football is a global game now and I'm sure it will be a great experience for Michael and Jonathan," he said.
"The lads are quite used to changing their game to suit the Premier League or the Champions League or international football, so I don't think they will have any problems over there.
"In my day, when I went over to Spain there weren't many English players abroad. But I was lucky in that Michael Robinson was there to help me. He was very influential in making the move happen and he and his wife were a big, big help to myself, my wife and my son at the time.
"I'm sure David Beckham will help Michael and Jonathan in the same way and it makes a real difference if you have friends around you.
"Having said that the Spanish people were excellent to me and I'm sure they will be the same in Madrid. If you make at least an effort to try and learn the language they take you to their hearts and they are very patient.
"I don't want to be seen to be giving anyone any advice, though. All I would say to the boys is make sure you enjoy it."
Lee knows the benefits of both the English and the Spanish game, but you won't catch him trying to rate one above the other.
He is far more interested in watching how players learn from new experiences - whether they are playing at home or abroad.
"It's a very good league they are going to, but then the Premiership is a good league as well," he said.
"I know these players, they are always looking to learn whether they are at Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle or Real Madrid.
"You can learn every day in football and if you keep an open mind you always find ways to improve.
"I know Michael has already said he is going to Spain to improve his game and that's typical of him.
"Michael is a world-class player and the reason he is so successful is that every day in every training session he wants to learn something.
"That's what makes all top players special and Jonathan is no different. He is a terrific prospect and a very, very talented lad."
The good news for Lee is that the new Anglo-Spanish connection will also add flavour to his own job.
The England coach regularly attends training sessions as well as matches to watch the Three Lions stars at close quarters - and now his beat will include Madrid.
"That will be a really interesting aspect of my post and I'm looking forward to it," said Lee.
"I'll spend two or three days at a time at all of the clubs and watch the England players in action. Coaches are just like players in that we can learn something new all the time - and watching Real Madrid training sessions will be very interesting indeed."