THE FOOTBALL industry and black community came together in their hundreds at the Football Black List celebration, supported by the Premier League, to celebrate the achievements of the late Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay professional player, Benjamin Odeje, the first black player to represent England at any level, and black leaders in the game who feature on the 2019 list.
Fashanu and Odeje were honoured with Keith Alexander awards for outstanding contributions to the game and the black community.
Attendees on the night included Premier League legend, Andrew Cole, and leading coaches, Chris Hughton, Chris Powell, Darren Moore and Michael Johnson. Athletics legend, Denise Lewis, also joined the event to show her support.
The Football Black List, first published in The Voice newspaper in 2008, highlights black industry professionals who are positive influencers.
Founded by sports journalists Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds, the initiative is designed to shine a light on role models for the next generation as a way of helping to diversify the industry.
Chelsea women star, Anita Asante, picked up her award in the Cyrille Regis players category that included Premier League stars Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, Sadio Mane and Juve women star, Eniola Aluko.
The next generation of black excellence was also highlighted through the Ugo Ehiogu Ones to Watch awards, which were presented by Ugo’s brother, Alosie and sister, Ola.
Co- founder of the Football Black List, Mann, said: “What Justin and Benjamin did for football is huge. They both made contributions that changed the game and we are delighted this event can pay tribute to them and also the many other pioneers from the black community.
“The celebration represented our most successful event ever. To have more than 500 guests ranging from top administrators to community heroes and legendary players was incredible.
“Huge thanks to the Premier League for helping to make this happen and continuing to support the initiative.”
Co-founder Hinds added: ” What a sensational night! The event and influence of the list continues.
“All at the Voice are delighted to be integral to this positive football initiative. To see so many inspirational people in one room had me buzzing myself!
“When Leon and myself sat down a decade ago I am not quite sure we could ever have imagined the huge success of the event.”