Born: Arlington Heights, Illinois, United States, 19 June 1972
Position: Centre forward
International caps: 95
International goals: 30
Signed: 20 January 2004, Colombus Crew (£650,000)
Fulham debut: Fulham 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, 31 January 2004
Fulham appearances: 154
Fulham goals: 34
Sold: Released (June 2008).
Brian McBride had the unenviable task of replacing Louis Saha at Fulham, even if Chris Coleman insisted his new striker was not a direct replacement for the French goalscorer than had just departed for Old Trafford. The American made the perfect start – scoring the winner past his compatriot Brad Friedel, then in goal for Tottenham, as a substitute. McBride was an unassuming centre forward, blessed with exceptional aerial ability, and seemed hand made for English football – despite growing up in Illinois and coming through the American college system.
He was an exceptional hard worker, both on the training ground and during games, making light of a lack of pace and slight stature to always keep defenders on their toes. McBride often scored spectacular goals, including a stunning volley in the FA Cup at West Ham in February 2004, and a brilliantly acrobatic finish that saw off Portsmouth in 2005 in a vital relegation six-pointer. The American’s earnest displays continued to earn him one-year contract extensions and he became club captain in a testament to both his leadership by example and a special bond with the Fulham fans.
The latter was illustrated by the way McBride and his family attended away games with the supporters after he dislocated his kneecap when scoring in a game against Middlesbrough early in the 2007-08 season. He worked remarkably hard to return to play a key role in the Great Escape under Roy Hodgson: scoring vital goals against Everton, Reading and Birmingham City as the Whites stayed up on goal difference on the final day of the season. McBride chose that moment to leave Fulham on a high – returning to the United States, where is now the general manager of the men’s national team that recently reached the last sixteen of the World Cup.