Mon, 01 Apr 2002 Football News

World's first Black Professional Soccer Player


His name was Arthur Wharton (1865-1930) and he became the first ever Black professional footballer or soccer player. He was born in Ghana to a wealthy political family. His parents were mixed race. His mother was half scottish and half Fanti from the Royal family of Ekumfie, and his father was half Scottish and half Grenadian.

He later went to England with the intention of receiving traning and becoming a Methodist preacher. However he turned out to be a great athlete. He became the first man in the world to run 100 yards in 10 seconds at the National Championship at Stamford Bridge. This feat was later accepted as the first world record in that event. He was also a professional cricketer (believed to be the first African to play professional cricket); Arthur also set a record as a cyclist; In soccer he played as a goalkeeper for Preston North. Other teams he played for included Sheffield United, Ashton North End and Stockport County.

Needless to say this great Ghanaian faced intense racism but proudly fought back. His life ended on a somwhat tragic note as he had to seek work in a colliery pulling coal wagons. He died in poverty in 1930 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Edlington Cemetery. It was only in 1997 that "Football Unites-Racism Divides," managed to raise over a thousand pounds to set up a headstone in his honor.

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