About the Book
When Naby Keïta arrived at Liverpool for a club record £58m in the summer of 2018, he is handed Steven Gerrard’s legendary old No 8 shirt. Like many African children, the Guinea international grew up in poverty and learned to play the game whilst dodging cars with a makeshift ball on the traffic-clogged streets of Conakry. Featuring exclusive access to Keïta, as he takes on the mantle of Africa’s most expensive player during his debut season in the Premier League, it is a battle against the odds that Arthur Wharton could certainly have related to.
Wharton was the first player born in Africa to appear in the Football League and played in goal for Preston and Sheffield United in the 1890s. But – in a portent of the struggles that lay ahead for future generations – he ended up being buried in a pauper's grave. Ed Aarons tells his poignant story and highlights the many others who helped blaze the trail for African players, including Steve Mokone, Albert Johanneson, Brian and Mark Stein, Peter Ndlovu, Lucas Radebe, Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré. This book will tell the story of the pioneers who changed the face of English football.
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