Wharton statue at SGP

An 8ft statue of Arthur Wharton – England’s first black professional footballer – will be unveiled at St. George’s Park on 16 October.

Wharton made history after signing for Rotherham United in 1889 and the tribute will ensure his legacy continues for future generations to observe.

St. George’s Park Chairman, David Sheepshanks CBE, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that this iconic statue is going to be a part of St. George’s Park. 

“A key element of St. George’s Park is to ensure we are delivering the very best in learning and education across the entire game, and having this remarkable statue will help us inspire a new generation of coaches and players alike from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“I am looking forward to what will be a memorable launch day, that will bring together everyone in the game who is committed to equality and inclusion both inside and outside football, to pay homage to a true pioneer of his time.”

The statue, designed by sculptor Vivien Mallock, is the brainchild of the Arthur Wharton Foundation and is supported by The Football Association.

Shaun Campbell from the Arthur Wharton Foundation added: “This will be a very important day for football, for the Foundation and the advancement of social cohesion for equality for all.

“I’m delighted that the iconic statue of Arthur and all he represents will be seen by future generations for years to come.”

Educational materials supplied by the Sheffield-based Football Unites, Racism Divides project, including a comic, a film, exhibition and a range of presentations aimed at Key Stage 3 students, talking about the significance of Arthur historically and in 2014 will also feature at the national football centre. These materials are backed by the Heritage Lottery Project and the PFA.

Born in Accra, Ghana, Wharton moved to England as a 19-year-old in 1882 and went on to play as a goalkeeper for his hometown club Darlington, as well as representing Rotherham United, Preston North End and Sheffield United.

Wharton was also a professional cricketer, cycling champion and rugby player in his pomp, regarded by many as one of the early pioneers and trailblazers in sport, achieving unparalleled success in the face of adversity.