Arthur Wharton

Arthur Wharton - 1865 - 1930

Arthur Wharton (28 October 1865 – 13 December 1930) is widely considered to be the first black professional association football player in the world.[1][2][3] Though not the first black player outright - the amateur, and Scotland international player, Andrew Watson predated him[1] - 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 Henry Wharton was half-Grenadian and half-Scottish, while his mother, Annie Florence Grant Egyriba, was a member of the Fante Akan royalty. Wharton moved to England in 1882, to train as a Methodist missionary, but soon abandoned this in favour of becoming a full-time athlete.[1]

He 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.[3] He was also a keen cyclist and cricketer, playing for local teams in Yorkshire and Lancashire. However, Wharton is best remembered for his exploits as a footballer; while he was not the first mixed-race footballer in the United Kingdom — leading amateurs Robert Walker and Scotland international Andrew Watson predate him — he was the first mixed-race footballer to turn professional.[3]