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Full name Arthur Wharton
Date of birth 28 October 1865
Place of birth Jamestown, Gold Coast
Date of death December 13, 1930 (aged 65)
Place of death Edlington, South Yorkshire, England
Playing position Goalkeeper/Winger


Arthur Wharton (28 October 1865 – 13 December 1930) the first black professional association football player in the world. Though not the first black player outright - the amateur Andrew Watson predated him - Wharton was the first black professional and the first to play in the Football League.


Wharton was born in Jamestown, Gold Coast (now Accra, Ghana), his father was half-Grenadian and half-Scottish, and his mother was a half-Scottish member of the Ghanaian royalty. He moved to England in 1882, to train as a Methodist missionary, but soon abandoned this in favour of becoming a full-time athlete.

Wharton was an all-round sportsman - in 1886, he set a then world record of 10 seconds for a 100 yard sprint in the AAA championship. He was also a keen cyclist and cricketer, playing for local teams in Yorkshire and Lancashire. However, he is best remembered for his exploits as a footballer; while he was not the first black footballer in the United Kingdom — leading amateur and Scotland international Andrew Watson predates him by eleven years — he was the first black footballer to turn professional.

Wharton started as an amateur playing as a goalkeeper for Darlington, where he was spotted by Preston North End. He joined them as an amateur, and was part of the team that reached FA Cup semi-finals in 1886-87. Though part of "The Invincibles" of the 1880s, he left Preston in 1888 to concentrate on his running, and thus was not part of the team that subsequently won the Double in 1888-89.

He returned to football in 1889, joining Rotherham Town, signing as a professional. In 1894 he moved to Sheffield United, though he was understudy to regular first-team goalkeeper William "Fatty" Foulke. During the 1894-95 season, Wharton played three games for Sheffield United, against Leicester Fosse, Linfield and Sunderland — the latter being a First Division game, making Wharton the first black player to play in the top flight.
In 1895 he left for Stalybridge Rovers but after falling out with the management moved to Ashton North End in 1897. Ashton went bankrupt in 1899, and he returned to Stalybridge Rovers, before seeing out his career playing for Stockport County of the Second Division in 1901-02. As well as playing in goal, he would also occasionally feature outfield as a winger. He never won a major honour in the game during his career, nor was he capped at international level.

After retiring from football in 1902, he continued to play cricket and run competitively. In 1915 he moved to Edlington, South Yorkshire to work as a labourer in a colliery. He also joined the local Home Guard during World War I. However, he gradually descended into destitution and alcoholism and died penniless in 1930. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Edlington.

Legacy.
His grave was given a headstone in 1997 after a campaign by anti-racism campaigners "Football Unites - Racism Divides" for recognition of Wharton's achievements. In 2003 Wharton was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the impact he made on the game. There is now a campaign to have a statue erected in Darlington to acknowledge his achievements.

Hope some of you find that as interesting as i did. :)

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The Mexican Boy George
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i read about him on four four two, sounded like an interesting individual off the pitch, it talked about him having syphilis and being a womanizer, it also described him as a freak of an athlete who once quote " jumped, took a hold of the crossbar, caught the ball between his legs, and caused three onrushing forwards to fall into the net. he also held the world record for the 100 yd dash.
 

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@ Sal - thanks for the interesting read, mate.

@miguel - thanks for the additional info. He sure was an interesting character, if he played football like that. Could rival Rene Higuita's scorpion kick :)
 
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