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Statue Unveiled For The First Black Professional Footballer - Sports - Nairaland

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Statue Unveiled For The First Black Professional Footballer by djfiifi(m): 10:22pm On Oct 16, 2014
A statue of the world's first black
professional football was unveiled at St.
George's Park in Burton, England, on
Arthur Wharton, a Fantse from Gold Coast, 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
"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


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