|Date of birth||28 October 1865|
|Place of birth||Jamestown, Gold Coast|
|Date of death||13 December 1930(aged 65)|
|Place of death||Edlington, South Yorkshire, England|
|1886–1888||Preston North End||2||(1)|
|1897–1899||Ashton North End||1||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Arthur Wharton (28 October 1865 – 13 December 1930) is widely considered to be the first black professional association football player in the world. Though not the first black player outright - the amateur, and Scotland international player, Andrew Watson predated him - Wharton was the first black professional and the first to play in the Football League.
Early life, ancestry and early career
Wharton was born in Jamestown, Gold Coast (now Accra, Ghana), his father was half-Grenadian and half-Scottish, and his mother was a member of the Fante Akan royalty. He moved to England in 1882, to train as a Methodist missionary, but soon abandoned this in favour of becoming a full-time athlete.
Wharton 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. He was also a keen cyclist and cricketer, playing for local teams in Yorkshire and Lancashire. However, he 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.
Wharton started as an amateur playing as a goalkeeper for Darlington, where he was spotted by Preston North End. He joined them as an amateur, and was part of the team that reached FA Cup semi-finals in 1886-87. Though part of "The Invincibles" of the 1880s, he left Preston in 1888 to concentrate on his running, and thus was not part of the team that subsequently won the Double in 1888-89.
He returned to football in 1889, joining Rotherham Town, signing as a professional. In 1894 he moved to Sheffield United, though he was understudy to regular first-team goalkeeper William "Fatty" Foulke. During the 1894-95 season, Wharton played three games for Sheffield United, against Leicester Fosse, Linfield and Sunderland — the latter being a First Division game, making Wharton the first mixed race player to play in the top flight.
In 1895 he left for Stalybridge Rovers but after falling out with the management moved to Ashton North End in 1897. Ashton went bankrupt in 1899, and he returned to Stalybridge Rovers, before seeing out his career playing for Stockport County of the Second Division in 1901-02. As well as playing in goal, he would also occasionally feature outfield as a winger. He never won a major honour in the game during his career, nor was he capped at international level.
His grave was given a headstone in 1997 after a campaign by anti-racism campaigners Football Unites, Racism Divides for recognition of Wharton's achievements. In 2003 Wharton was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the impact he made on the game. A campaign is currently running to have a statue erected in Darlington as well as in Rotherham to acknowledge his achievements, which has gained wide support within the professional game. In 2012, a small statue of Wharton was presented to Sepp Blatter at the headquarters of FIFA, where it will be on permanent display.
- "Arthur Wharton". 100 Great Black Britons.
- Phil Vasili. The First Black Footballer, Arthur Wharton, 1865-1930: an absence of memory. ISBN 0-7146-4903-1.
- "Arthur Wharton". Football Unites, Racism Divides.
- "Arthur Wharton: The first Black Footballer". BBC.
- Taw, Thomas (2006). Football's Twelve Apostles: The Making of The League 1886-1889. p. 17. ISBN 1-905328-09-5.
- "Arthur Wharton Foundation".
- Walker, Andy. "FIFA boss touched by Wharton statue presentation". Northern Echo. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- Phil Vasili, The First Black Footballer, Arthur Wharton, 1865-1930: an absence of memory (ISBN 0-7146-4903-1)
- Phil Vasili Colouring Over the White Line. The History of Black Footballers in Britain (ISBN 1-84018-296-2)
- Official website of the Arthur Wharton Foundation
- English Football Hall of Fame Profile
- Article on Spartacus Educational