Jack Leslie's family presented with honorary England cap ahead of Ukraine game

Plymouth inside left Jack Leslie, who was called up by England but later had the invitation withdrawn because of his race.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The family of Plymouth Argyle great Jack Leslie were at Wembley on Sunday to receive a posthumous cap for their relative ahead of England's Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine.

Leslie was called up by England in 1925 as a reserve, but the invitation was later withdrawn with no explanation.

Given that he was the only black player in English football, it is believed that he was snubbed due to his skin colour by members of the Football Association who had been unaware of his ethnicity at the time of his selection.

The inside left was never called up again by England and looking back on the events of 1925, Leslie told journalist Brian Woolnough: "They must have forgot I was a coloured boy."

He now has a statue outside Plymouth's Home Park after a campaign started in 2020 to honour him.

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It was unveiled on October 7th, 2022 and on the same day, the FA revealed they were awarding Leslie a posthumous honorary cap "to recognise his unique contribution and set of circumstances – and to right the historical wrong".

That cap was finally handed to members his family at Wembley on Sunday ahead of England's game against Ukraine.

Viv Anderson, who became England's first black player for the senior side in 1978, made the presentation.

John Charles had been the first black footballer to represent England at any level in 1963, having turned out for the Three Lions' Under-18 side.

That was still a full 38 years after Leslie's call-up, and subsequent withdrawal, in 1925.

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.