TAGPAY Investigates; Why, How and Where the data was lost.

Written by TAGPAY Associates and Chief Executive Officer Mr Nathan Jr Eno

Pictured: Mr Ben Odeje

The name Laurie Cunningham is not likely to ring any bells even among some of the most avid English football fans, as he featured for the England U-21s back in 1977. He was subsequently recognised as the first black footballer to play for his country.

What we might see as a trivial fact nowadays, has actually caused Ben Odeje – a former football player himself – to challenge the status quo in the sport’s history. As a 15-year-old, on his debut, Mr. Odeje donned the England Schoolboys shirt against Northern Ireland in front 70,000 spectators at the iconic Wembley Stadium, back in 1971.


Having watched a documentary about Mr. Cunningham’s achievement, what Mr. Odeje adamantly thought was a portrayal of the false historic information, he decided to restore justice. The former England Schoolboys player approached the Football Association for clarification of the matter. Following the consultation with its historian, the governing body was able to confirm that Ben Odeje was the first black player to appear for England at any level. This signified a considerable personal victory for the former footballer and meant his persistence was rewarded.

Odeje had a shorter playing career of four years as a professional player, unlike his historical ‘opponent’ who was his friend off the pitch and played for Real Madrid with a much lengthier playing career, Mr. Odeje is however still heavily involved in the game. He is currently running his own football school, Atlantic Sports Development, that educates its players in areas like teamwork and communication skills, as well as nurturing and enhancing general football abilities.

Here at TAGPAY we are delighted to see how the first ever black football player in England’s history is contributing to the beautiful game at the grassroots level, sharing his wealth of experience with potentially budding England Schoolboys and International Squad players.

This investigation is ongoing and thus TAGPAY will be publishing another article soon as we delve in to Mr Odeje’s past. Stay tuned for more on the lost story…

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