London

Football legend Laurie Cunningham honoured with blue plaque

Laurie Cunningham Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Laurie Cunningham was the first British footballer to play for Real Madrid

Football legend Laurie Cunningham has been honoured with a blue plaque at his childhood home.

Cunningham was one of the first black footballers to play for England and was the first British footballer to play for Real Madrid.

His plaque was unveiled in Stroud Green, north London.

It has been revealed only 4% of the 900 plaques on buildings in the city are for black and Asian figures.

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Image copyright PA
Image caption He lived in Stroud Green when he was first spotted by a Leyton Orient scout before making his professional debut with the team in 1974

English Heritage said it had launched a working group to propose nominees to try and increase that number.

Those who are remembered include Jamaican Crimea War nurse Mary Seacole, Chinese writer Lao She, Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix.

It said the low numbers were partly due to a lack of public nominations for people who fulfil the blue plaque criteria and an absence or inaccessibility of historical records establishing a definitive link between the person and the building where they lived.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cunningham played for England six times

To get a blue plaque in London, nominees must:

  • Be eminent within their field and their achievements have made an exceptional impact
  • Have been dead for 20 years
  • Have lived in the city for a significant amount of time

Cunningham more than meets this criteria. Born in Archway in 1956, he was scouted by Leyton Orient when he was 18. He played there for three years before joining West Bromwich Albion, under the helm of Ron Atkinson, when the club became one of the most exciting teams in the top division.

In 1977 he made his England debut in an under-21s friendly against Scotland. He made his full international debut in 1979 and earned six caps.

He was often reported as being the first black footballer to play for England, but, in 2013 the Football Association amended its records after it was revealed that Benjamin Odeje played for the country at schoolboy level in 1971.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Laurie Cunningham was born in Archway and grew up in Stroud Green

Following his time at West Brom, he became the first British footballer to play for Real Madrid.

He then had spells at teams including Manchester United and Wimbledon, who he helped win the FA Cup in 1988.

A year later he was killed in a car crash in Madrid aged just 33.

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Image copyright Tableau Public

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