English FA honours Ghanaian footballer

By Fiifi Anaman

A full-scale statue of Ghanaian Arthur Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer, is set to be unveiled by the Football Association (of England).
The statue, the FA announced on Monday,  is set to be unveiled at St George’s Park, the FA’s National Football Center (Ghana’s equivalent is the Ghanaman soccer center of excellence in Prampram) in Burton-upon-Trent, Straffordshire.
The venture, a collaboration between the Arthur Wharton Foundation, the FA and the St George’s Park, is geared towards honouring a man many consider an iconic pioneer not only in football, but all the other sports such as athletics, cricket, rugby and cycling that he excelled in.
Many have labeled Wharton, who died aged 65 in 1930, as a man of multiple sporting talents and quite possibly one of the greatest sportsmen in British history.

Life and times
Wharton, who became the first black professional when he signed for Rotherham Town 125 years ago, was born in the Ghanaian town of Jamestown in Accra to a half Grenadian and half Canadian father and a Ghanaian mother (of Fante Royal descent) in 1865.
Wharton moved from Ghana to the United Kingdom aged 17 in 1882 to train as a missionary, but ended up abandoning life as an academician and theologist to pursue his passion in sport. He is reported to have set a new world record in a 100 yard dash at the 1886 Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) Championship in Stamford Bridge, clocking an impressive 10 seconds.
In football, he started out as a goalkeeper in a stint with Darlington in 1885, where he impressed and was signed as a semi-professional by then-English giants Preston North End.
After helping them reach the 1887 FA Cup semi final, he left the Lilywhites in 1888, and a year later, made history by becoming the World’s first black professional footballer when he signed for Rotherham Town.

Recognition lauded
The founder of the Arthur Wharton foundation, Shaun Campbell, who has over the last few years campaigned for the hitherto widely unknown Wharton to be recognized, has expressed his pride about the gesture.
“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.
“Having a statue in Arthur’s honour erected at St. George’s Park is testament to that support, and we also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the wonderful and tangible support that we have received from other stakeholders including FIFA, UEFA, and the PFA throughout this campaign.”
FA chairman Greg Dyke is also delighted about the move to showcase Wharton’s legacy to the world. “We’re 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.”
Chairman of St George’s Park, David Sheepshanks CBE has also added his voice. ““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.”
One of many
This gesture is the latest in a series of many. Two years ago, the foundation presented a FIFA-funded bronze statue of Wharton to FIFA President Sepp Blatter for display at the headquarters of the World football governing body.
Soon, the FA has said, another statue will follow suit at the New York Stadium, the grounds of Rotherham United: the club where it all happened.

source: http://allsports.com.gh

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Posted by on Mar 14 2014. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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