Representatives from the PFA were in Plymouth today to attend the unveiling of a statue to commemorate the pioneering black footballer Jack Leslie.
Jack, who scored 137 goals for Plymouth Argyle in the 1920s and 30s, was called up for England in 1925 only to be denied his place due to the colour of his skin.
The 12ft tall monument created by Andy Edwards, which stands outside’s Plymouth’s Home Park stadium, is the result of a long running campaign led by two Argyle fans, Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith, who helped raise more than £100,000 in the summer of 2020 to create a fitting tribute to a player who remains a local and national legend.
Since then, together with a committee of volunteers and Jack Leslie’s three granddaughters, they have worked to bring the statue project to fruition.
Born in East London, Jack Leslie signed for Plymouth Argyle in 1921 and made 400 appearances before injury forced his retirement in 1934.
He is widely known as the first Black footballer to have been selected for England in 1925, only for this name to disappear from the team chosen to play Ireland in October that year.
Matt and Greg, who led the campaign for the monument, said:
“Telling Jack’s story in Plymouth and across the UK has been inspiring to us and those who have heard it. To have the support of so many is incredible. The statue will celebrate Jack’s life and achievements as well as tell the story of that injustice of 1925. It is a proud moment for everyone involved to have this ceremony outside Home Park where Jack plied his trade for so many years.”
The PFA, who contributed towards funds towards the creation of the monument, was represented by EDI executive Riz Rehman, who was joined by others from within football and members of Jack’s family.
Simone Pound, the PFA’s Director of EDI, said:
“It was important for us to support this monument to Jack and to ensure that his career and achievements are acknowledged and remembered.
“It’s fitting that this ceremony takes place during Black History Month as Jack is a true Pioneer of the game and he should be celebrated. It is also a reminder of the injustices that black people have endured over time, and the need for football to ensure it keeps working hard to ensure racism and discrimination are tackled and addressed - for the good of wider society as well as within the game.”