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Ex-Liverpool, Blackburn player Gayle declines MBE

Former Liverpool player Howard Gayle has explained his reasons for turning down a Member of the British Empire nomination.

Gayle, who became Liverpool's first black player in 1977, was put forward for the honour - commonly known as an MBE and awarded by the constitutional monarchy in the United Kingdom for outstanding achievements, public service and charitable work - on account of his involvement with the anti-racism football educational charity Show Racism the Red Card.

But the 58-year-old felt to accept the honour would be a "betrayal" of his ancestors in Africa who suffered under British colonial rule.

In a post on his Facebook page, Gayle said: "Most of you who are on my FB page are aware of the work that I do tackling racism and the work I do for Show Racism the Red Card. 

"And for that work, yesterday I was nominated for a MBE. Unfortunately I had to decline the nomination for the reason that my ancestors would be turning in their graves after how Empire and Colonialism had enslaved them.

"This is a decision that I have had to make and there will be others who may feel different and would enjoy the attraction of being a Member of the British Empire and [having] those three letters after their name.

"But I feel that it would be a betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives or who have suffered as a result of Empire."

Gayle began his career at Liverpool and spent time on loan with Fulham and Newcastle before spells with Birmingham City, Sunderland and Stoke City.

In 1987, the winger moved to Blackburn Rovers, where he scored 29 goals in a five-year stay at Ewood Park.