LONDON (AP) — A fundraising campaign has been launched to raise money for a statue to honor the late Jack Leslie, who was denied the chance to play for England’s national soccer team in 1925 because he was Black.
Leslie, an attacking player who scored 137 goals in 401 matches during a 14-year career with Plymouth Argyle, was named in England’s team for an international match against Ireland 95 years ago. However, after being selected his name disappeared from the team sheet, seemingly because Football Association officials discovered he was Black, according to the campaign page website.
“Jack Leslie should have been England’s first Black player but when the selectors discovered his heritage, his name would never appear on the team sheet,” the page says.
The campaign aims to raise funds for a statue of Leslie at Plymouth’s Home Park, promote and share his story, and celebrate diversity and combat racism.
Plymouth has decided to honor Leslie, who died in 1988 at the age of 88, by naming a new board room after him at Home Park.
Nottingham Forest defender Viv Anderson eventually became the first Black player to represent England’s national team when he appeared in a friendly against the-then Czechoslovakia in November 1978.
Anderson, who also played for Arsenal, Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday, made 30 appearances for his country.
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