Plans for a second statue to honour footballing pioneer

Arthur Wharton
Arthur Wharton
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ARTHUR Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer, is to be honoured with a second statue at the Football Association’s new home.

When Wharton signed a contract to be Rotherham Town’s goalkeeper in 1889 he became the first black man to be paid to play football.

To mark the 125th anniversary of this moment plans are already in place to erect a statue outside Rotherham United’s stadium. A sculpture is being created by Graham Ibbeson which features three men to recreate the image of Wharton diving to make a save.

Now the FA have announced plans to create a statue at the National Football Centre near Burton-upon-Trent.

The FA will also exhibit educational materal produced by the South Yorkshire charity Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD).The Yorkshire Post reported last month how the charity has created a comic book to introduced Wharton’s story to a new generation. It is part of a package of material for schools including a new website

The new statue is being launched by the FA in partnership with the Arthur Wharton Foundation, based in Darlington.

Born in Accra, Ghana, Wharton moved to England, aged 19, in 1882. Wharton first played football for Darlington as a goalkeeper before becoming a professional for Rotherham Town.

He also played for Preston North End and Sheffield United and was the worlds’ fastest man.

He became the first official 100-yard world record holder and world champion in 1886, with a time of 10 seconds at the AAA Championships in London.

David Sheepshanks, St George’s Park chairman, said:“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.”

Shaun Campbell, founder of The Arthur Wharton Foundation, said: “We are hugely honoured and privileged to have received such fantastic support from The FA throughout our campaign helping raise awareness of Arthur’s achievements.”