HONOURED: Laurie Cunningham (PA)
FOOTBALLING LEGEND Laurie Cunningham is to be celebrated with a commemorative blue plaque outside of the east London club where he began his playing career.
The late ex-Real Madrid star, who died in a car crash in 1989, will have his plaque revealed at the apartment block building where lived, right next to Leyton Orient football club, the side with which he became professional in the 1970s.
The unveiling is to take place on October 12, 39 years to the day after he made his first appearance for Orient.
Cunningham was the first black player to be included in the England set-up, scoring on his debut in an Under-21 match against Scotland, and was known for his silky style on the wing that beguiled players and fans alike.
He played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Manchester United, and was the first English-born player to don the white shirt of Madrid.
Speaking about the latest memorial to Cunningham, his brother Keith said: “I am extremely proud of his achievements and contribution he made to football. On behalf of the Cunningham family, I would like to thank everybody for their involvement of keeping Laurie Cunningham's memory alive.”
The plaque has been organised by a partnership between Orient, the Nubian Jak Community Trust, Kick it Out and Waltham Forest Council.
Matthew Porter, chief executive of Orient, said: “Laurie is one of our most fondly remembered players both for his talent and character.
“Arguably our most naturally gifted player of all time, his spirit very much lives on at the Club and every fan of his generation can recall watching him play.
“As a Club we are committed to keeping his memory alive and hope that he can continue to inspire many future generations.”
Former team-mate and deputy chief of the Professional Footballers Association Brendan Batson added: “Laurie was one of the most talented footballers I played with but he was also a genuinely nice guy to be around.
“Twenty four years on and I still miss his company.”