Statue of first black footballer Arthur Wharton to be unveiled in Burton

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A statue of the England’s first black footballer is to be unveiled at the National Football Centre in Burton upon Trent.

Arthur Wharton statue being created

Arthur Wharton statue being created

Arthur Wharton, the first African player to play in the Football League, is to be honoured with a statue at St George’s Park.

He came to the UK from Ghana in the 1880s and was signed by Darlington at the age of 19 and went on to play as a goalkeeper for Preston North End, Rotherham Town, Sheffield United and Stockport County.

The bronze statue, by famous sculptor Vivien Mallock, will stand around 16 feet tall, and is part of a presentation at the National Football Centre, which will include films, comics and an exhibition about Wharton.

It was commissioned by the Darlington-based Arthur Wharton Foundation, was originally intended to be put up in his home town.

But foundation founder Shaun Campbell said that, 125 years on from Wharton signing his first professional contract, the statue shoes the importance of the footballer’s achievements.

He said the statue is due to be unveiled in May.

He added: “It’s going to be a great day for football and a great day for the embracing of culture and diversity.

“It will also be a wonderful day to have a very iconic figure that will inspire and motivate people through his story.”

“We raise awareness of Arthur Wharton and the need to celebrate him, to acknowledge what he represents and what he can do for future generations.

“We do that by achieving things like having the statue erected by talking in schools, colleges and award ceremonies.

“We seek to inspire others.”

Wharton also played cricket for Cannock and was the first person to record a 100-yard time of 10 seconds in sprinting in 1886 – a record that stood for 26 years.

The St George National Football Centre is the home of the Football Association and where all England National teams train. T

The site is also home of the FA educational department.

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