Statue honouring first black footballer unveiled

A STATUE of Arthur Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer, has been unveiled at the St. George’s Park national football centre in Burton.

The statue was unveiled at St George's Park national football centre in Burton. Picture: Getty

Wharton came to Britain from Ghana in the 1880s and was signed by Darlington at the age of 19 before going on to play as a goalkeeper for Preston, Rotherham, Darlington and Sheffield United.

St. George’s Park chairman David Sheepshanks said he hoped the 16ft-high bronze statue by sculptor Vivien Mallock would inspire coaches from ethnic minorities.

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Sheepshanks said: “At St. George’s Park we want to educate and inspire a new generation of coaches and players from all backgrounds.

“This is a memorable day on our journey to doing so now the statue is up, but we don’t stop here.

“Our job is to continue helping organisations like FURD (Football Unites Racism Divides) and the Arthur Wharton Foundation educate the next generation about Arthur.

“As an association, we need to find ways of bringing black and Asian coaches through the ranks.”

In 1886 Wharton became the Amateur Athletics Association’s national 100-yard running champion, before turning to football.

He died in a workhouse sanatorium in 1930.