The legendary Arthur Wharton

Arthur Wharton

Being black and a professional football player in the late of 19th century it seemed just as a joke, but seemed dangerous, until the appearance of Arthur Wharton.

Born in 1865 at Jamestown of Gold Coast (today's Ghana), having a father half from Granada - half of Scotland and a mother from the Akan tribe of Côte d'Ivoire, Wharton moved to England in 1882 at the age of 17, to train as a Methodist missionary. But he had other plans...

Wharton became a successful "homo universalis" of sports. In 1886 with a performance of 10", broke the world record in the 100-yard track in Athletics Championship of Britain. He also dealt with cycling and cricket, played in clubs in Yorkshire and Lancashire, but he finally became a 'king' at football.

At first started as a hobby, playing goalkeeper in Darlington, where he was found by Preston North End.

He was a member of the team having reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup 1886-87 season and the famous "invincible" that swept the 1880's, but because he left in 1888 to devote himself temporarily in the streets, he didn't won with them the first double in the Island.

Wharton 1894
Arthur Wharton (1894)

A year later, in 1889, he returned as player of Rotherham, like a professional player, and in 1894 went to Sheffield United, in which he played three games that season.

At the same time, he broke another taboo, as he became the first black footballer who played in the premier class of English football.

His career continued in Stalybridge Rovers F.C., then in Ashton North End, later returned to Stalybridge and eventually retired from football at 1901-02 with Stockport. He was a mainly a goalkeeper, but several times played as a midfielder or attacker, without winning a title at his football career.

Arthur Wharton died alone and forgotten by everyone in 1930 and thanks to the concerted efforts of the organization "Football Unites, Racism Divides", in 1997, a headstone was placed at his tomb.

In 2003 he became a member of the English Football Hall of Fame, in recognition for his contribution to the sport. A campaign is already running for build a statue in Darlington and Rotherham. Also, last June, a small bronze statuette of Wharton gracing the official offices of FIFA.

Finally, the foundation "Arthur Wharton", is a nonprofit organization that aims to fight against racism and discrimination in football, carrying the legacy of a legendary athlete...

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