The Football Association is awarding Jack Leslie, the first black player to receive an England call-up, a posthumous honorary cap. The inside-left, who scored 137 goals in 400 appearances for Plymouth between 1921 and 1934, was called up to the national team in 1925.
But Leslie would disgracefully be denied an England appearance because of the colour of his skin after selectors discovered his heritage. The Argyle favourite died in 1988 and has been immortalised by a statue that was formally unveiled outside Home Park on Friday.
The FA chair, Debbie Hewitt, confirmed that Leslie has been posthumously awarded an England cap 97 years after his call-up. “Jack Leslie is a true football legend who, through his own adversity, has positively shaped attitudes and behaviours to identify and remove discrimination from football,” she said in a statement released to PA.
“The FA is awarding Jack a posthumous honorary cap to recognise his unique contribution and set of circumstances – and to right the historical wrong. I had the privilege of meeting Lesley, Jack’s granddaughter, at a recent international game at Wembley, where we had the opportunity to recognise the family’s determination, courage and resilience to have Jack’s story told and through the efforts of Lesley and her sisters Lyn and Gill, to change perceptions in football and more broadly in society.
“We have made progress in recent years to ensure that English football is more diverse and inclusive and a game for all. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jack and to his family for comprehensively and consistently driving positive change through football. We are pleased to support this campaign and to recognise Jack’s career.”