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First black professional footballer to get statue at St George’s Park

Arthur Wharton was the first black professional footballer Photo: The FA

The world's first black professional footballer is to be memorialised as a statue at England’s St George’s Park base in Staffordshire.

Arthur Wharton became a professional footballer 125 years ago, when he signed for Rotherham United.

Arthur Wharton was successful in many sports, not just football Credit: The FA

The Arthur Wharton Foundation, in collaboration with the FA, will unveil a full-scale, 16ft bronze statue in the grounds of the National Football Centre. It was designed and made by sculptor Vivien Mallock.

It will be part of an educational feature, as a comic, film, exhibition and a range of presentations will accompany the statue. The latter will talk about the significance of the player both historically and today.

We are delighted not only to give Arthur a permanent home, but to tell his story throughout St. George’s Park. Everyone who visits our wonderful facility will learn of his significance historically, and his remarkable achievements.

– Greg Dyke, FA Chairman

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...

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.

– David Sheepshanks CBE, St George's Park Chairman

Arthur Wharton factfile:

  • Born in Accra, Ghana, in 1865.
  • Moved to England in 1882.
  • Played for Darlington, Rotherham united, Preston North End and Sheffield United.
  • Played as a goalkeeper and also as a winger.
  • Became 100-yard sprint world record holder and world champion in 1886, with a time of 10 seconds, and the AAA Championships in London.
  • He was also a professional cricketer, cycling champion and rugby player.