Statue unveiled for professional football's first black player
ESPN staff
October 16, 2014
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A statue of the world's first black professional football was unveiled at St. George's Park in Burton, England, on Thursday.

Arthur Wharton, born in modern-day Ghana in 1865, played professionally for Rotherham Town and Sheffield United.

He had initially joined up as an amateur with Darlington at the age of 19, having arrived in Britain with the intention of training as a Methodist missionary but opted for a career in sport, playing predominantly as a goalkeeper but also as a winger.

He has now been honoured with a 16-foot statue at the FA's national football centre and St. George's Park chairman David Sheepshanks said on the governing body's official website: "Today is a historic day to mark the achievements and the legacy of the late, great Arthur Wharton.

"But it's also a future day because it's a day that going to inspire a whole new generation of young players and in particular young coaches to want to reach for the top and be the best they possibly can be.

"When you look at what this man achieved it's simply extraordinary. Imagine the courage he had to display to achieve what he did in those days.

"We often talk how hard it is for young people from black and Asian minority backgrounds to get into top jobs today, so imagine what it was like then. Certainly not enough people know about his story and we're going to embrace it in the tour programmes of all the young people and schools that come here.

"We're going to make sure his story is told to all the coach education cohorts that come through here -- and that will manifest and grow and I think it will become a really important part of what St. George's Park is all about.

"We are here to embrace talent from wherever it comes. Hopefully today will be a moment in time that everyone will look back and say: 'You know from that day onwards opportunities grew -- no matter what background you came from.'"

Wharton was also became the Amateur Athletics Association's national 100-yard running champion in 1886 and is said to have become the first man to run 100 yards in 10 seconds.

Shaun Campbell, who founded the Arthur Wharton Foundation, added: "Today is a very proud day. It's been a long journey but it's one that's been an absolute honour and a privilege to be part of.

"But this statue is not the end, it is the beginning. Football is part of the wider problem, but it is also the biggest army in the world. If you can unite the fans, the support base, it has the capacity to really make a difference -- and it's very exciting.

"To move forward we have to tackle it on a global scale, but football can kick-off that campaign.

"You don't have time to feel the stresses and strains of championing something like this because your own adversity can never match that which he faced.

"This is the beginning of true recognition for the black and ethnic minority groups to this country."

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