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Black History Month: Viv Anderson

28 October 2021

One of English football’s true pioneers, Viv Anderson established himself as a legend for both Club and country.

Breaking down barriers for inspirations to follow, in 1978, Anderson became England’s first-ever full international black player.

Most notably, Anderson was capped 30 times for England and made 328 appearances for Nottingham Forest.

“I was called up and delighted at the time, but thoughts are going through your head saying, ‘don’t let yourself down, don’t let your teammates down and don’t let your parents down’,” he said, reflecting on his achievements during Black History Month on the Official EFL Podcast.

From winning the European Cup twice with Nottingham Forest before moving onto Arsenal, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and eventually joining Barnsley as player-manager and later, Middlesbrough, the Clifton-born defender has enjoyed a celebrated career.

He also became one of the first black players to represent some of England’s top clubs at that time.

“There was only one black family on the estate,” he recalled. “Because I was good at sport, I had many friends and I never really experienced racism growing up.

“I played football all the time, even at school. I was always kicking the ball.”

He continued: “I went on holiday to Skegness with my parents and was playing football on the beach. A boy came up to me and said, ‘would you like a trial for Sheffield United?’ I didn’t know what a trial was, so I took him back to my parents and he explained what a trial was.

“Back in the 70’s, if I wanted to speak out about stuff like this, I would be out of it my feet wouldn’t touch the ground. I wouldn’t have lasted two seconds. But now these players have a voice.”

Anderson was recognised for his achievements within the sport in 2004, when he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

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