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Statue to mark role of first ever black footballer

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

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THE legacy of the world’s first black professional footballer will be immortalised with a special statue at the national football centre.

Bosses at St George’s Park are set to unveil the permanent memorial to Arthur Wharton at the site 125 years after he first laced up his boots for Rotherham United in 1889.

The 16ft bronze statue was designed and made by leading sculptor Vivien Mallock and was the brainchild of the Arthur Wharton Foundation, in collaboration with The Football Association (FA).

St George’s Park chairman David Sheepshanks said: “I am really pleased that St George’s Park will be the home of this iconic new statue in honour of Arthur Wharton.

“He was truly a pioneer of his time and it is remarkable to think about the adversity he had to overcome to achieve what he did.

“St George’s Park is increasingly playing its part as a brains trust for the game, where so many different people in different aspects of football assemble, so it is only fitting that we are able to honour Arthur’s achievements right here at the national football centre.

“We hope that this statue will both educate and inspire a new generation of coaches and players from all backgrounds, and specifically black and minority ethnic backgrounds.”

The statue will be flanked by education materials including a comic, a film, exhibition and a range of presentations.

Born in Accra, Ghana, Wharton moved to England in 1882, at the age of 19, and went on to feature as a goalkeeper for his home-town club Darlington, as well as representing Rotherham United, Preston North End and Sheffield United.

He was also the first official 100-yard world record holder and world champion in 1886, as well as a professional cricketer, cycling champion and rugby player in his pomp.

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