Arthur Wharton is widely considered to be the first black professional footballer in the world. Though not the first black player outright, the amateurs Robert Walker of Queen’s Park, and Scotland international player, Andrew Watson predate him. Wharton was the first black professional and the first to play in the Football League.
Arthur Wharton was born in Ghana in 1865 and later moved to the UK in 1882 before being signed for Darlington at the age of 19 – where he played in goal.
In a career which spanned 17 years, he also played for Preston North End, Rotherham Town, Sheffield United and Stockport County.
Despite being stuck between the sticks, he later became the fastest man in the world, becoming the first man ever to run 100 yards in under 10 seconds.
Wharton also played cricket for Yorkshire, played rugby union, rugby league and was a champion cyclist. He died on 13th of December 1930 aged 65.
In 2014, The Football Association honoured him by unveiling a statue in his honour.
He was recognised for being a pioneer for sport in the late 1800’s, not just for his contribution to football.
The statue, based at St George’s Park, is made from bronze and was cast in clay, and was made from 42 different pieces before being welded together.
It was made by acclaimed sculptor Vivien Mallock and stands in the middle of the St. George’s Cross in the memorial garden at the National Football Centre.
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