Plymouth Argyle have unveiled a statue in honour of former player Jack Leslie.
Marking Black History Month, the figurine was officially uncovered on Friday afternoon in front of a crowd gathered outside of Home Park.
Among those in attendance were Plymouth supporters, Jack’s surviving family members, and campaigners who have been fighting to recognise the former Pilgrims captain’s achievements, along with current and former Argyle players.
Leslie, who played 400 times for the Pilgrims, scoring 137 goals between 1921 and 1935, was selected to represent his country almost a century ago and would’ve become the first black player to represent England, but his name never appeared on the team sheet.
“Such was his prowess that he got called up for England in 1925 but then, controversially, his name was dropped, so he should have been the first black footballer to play for England, rather than just being selected for England,” explained Greg Foxsmith, Co-Founder of The Jack Leslie Campaign.
“We want to acknowledge that injustice and celebrate his achievements. What really overwhelmed us was that this hasn’t just been supported by people from Plymouth – although obviously they have in huge numbers – but across the South West and across the whole country.”
He also received an honorary cap which was presented to his granddaughters - Lesley Hiscott, Lyn Davies and Gill Carter – who were present on this special day.
A celebration of one of @Argyle's greatest ever players.— EFL (@EFL) October 10, 2022
A true pioneer, now with a posthumous England cap, Jack Leslie will never be forgotten 💚#EFL pic.twitter.com/RzrDGnKSiq
“It’s truly inspirational. I think what happened to Jack should never have happened back in 1925," current Argyle boss Steven Schumacher added. "All of the credit should go to the guys in the campaign who have been driving this message forward.
“When I first came to the Club, we read about the story and we knew how much of an Argyle legend Jack Leslie was, and now the whole world knows it about it. The story is out there. He’s rightly been awarded his posthumous England cap.
“I know the campaign organisers went to the FA and when they told them the story about Jack, the FA recognised that there was a wrong that happened in 1925. Now, they’ve put that wrong right. We’ve rightly recognised Jack’s legacy with a statue outside the stadium that everybody can now see every time they turn up.”
Former Pilgrims midfielder Ronnie Mauge said: “Plymouth Argyle Football Club are travelling in a direction where we represent the community and the diversity that comes from the community, and we replicate that at the Football Club.
“Having the Jack Leslie statue outside of the Football Club brings a whole new meaning to diversity now as well.”
Photography: Matthew Ellacott