Plymouth unveil statue of footballer dropped from England squad for racing

Plymouth Argyle will unveil a statue of pioneering black footballer Jack Leslie.

Born in Canning Town, Leslie spent 14 seasons with the Devon Club, scoring 137 goals in 401 games.

The inner left was called up to the England squad in 1925 but was later withdrawn, allegedly after selectors learned of the color of his skin.

“I think the manager sent his request saying ‘I have a brilliant player here, he should play for England,'” his granddaughter Lesley Hiscott told the BBC in 2020.

“So someone came down to watch him. They didn’t look at his football. They looked at the color of his skin.

“And that’s why he was denied the chance to play for his country.”

The statue will stand 3.7 meters tall and follows a fan-led campaign that began in 2019. The campaign has raised £140,000 to commemorate Leslie in a statue created by Andy Edwards.

While the unveiling will be attended by members of Leslie’s family, campaign managers and senior Plymouth Argyle officials, there will also be a celebration of Leslie’s life and legacy before the club, who currently top League One, play Accrington Stanley on Saturday starts.

“As an Argyle fan, it’s a great thing to have a statue of a legend outside the club, but this statue is more than that,” said Matt Tiller, one of the fans involved in campaigning for the statue.

“Jack Leslie was a true Argyle legend, but the story of what happened to him when he was called up by England and being rejected because of the color of his skin is an important story to tell.

“It’s not just a lump of bronze. It’s not just a depiction of a footballer. It’s there to tell the story of his career and what he had to come to terms with.” Plymouth unveil statue of footballer dropped from England squad for racing

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