First black footballers to play for Premier League clubs

Walter Tull played for Spurs from 1909-1911

Incredibly, it wasn’t until 1980 that a black player debuted for Liverpool FC. Howard Gayle, the silky winger, come on as a second half substitute for David Fairclough against Manchester City.

While Liverpool was late to the game, the history of the other clubs in the top flight of the English football is pretty varied in terms of when a black player made his debut for the club. For many clubs, history was made in the 1970’s to 1980’s, while Tottenham Hotspur gave a debut to its first black player, Walter Tull, as early as 1909.

Here are the first black players to make a first-team appearance for each of the current 20 Premier League clubs. The date of their debut is included too:

  • Arsenal Brendan Batson – 1971
  • Aston Villa – Stan Horne, early 1960s
  • Blackburn – Unknown
  • Bolton – Unknown, but first black Bolton player to get an England cap was Michael Ricketts in 2002
  • Chelsea – Paul Canoville – April 12 1982
  • Everton – Mike Trebilcock – January, 1966
  • Fulham – Possibly Howard Gayle, who made his first appearance for Fulham in 1980 after being loaned out by Liverpool. First black Fulham player to get an England cap was Zat Knight in 2005
  • Hull – Unknown
  • Liverpool – Howard Gayle – October 4, 1980
  • Man City – Stan Horne – September 25, 1965
  • Manchester United – Tony Whelan – 1960s
  • Middlesbrough – Lindy Lindbergh – 1950
  • Newcastle – Possibly Howard Gayle, 1982
  • Portsmouth – Lindy Lindbergh – 1948
  • Stoke City – R.H. Brown – 1946
  • Sunderland – Roly Gregoire – January 2, 1978
  • Tottenham – Walter Tull – September 1909
  • West Brom – Unknown, but Laurie Cunningham was the first black West Brom player to get a cap for England in 1979
  • West Ham United – John Charles – May 4 1963
  • Wigan – Unknown.
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