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Finsbury Park plaque for Laurie Cunningham: Footballer who beat the racists

14:56 23 September 2016

Laurie Cunningham playing for England in 1980. Picture: Peter Robinson/Empics

Laurie Cunningham playing for England in 1980. Picture: Peter Robinson/Empics

EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

One of Islington’s most historic footballers has been commemorated with a plaque at his childhood home.

Relatives of Laurie Cunningham at the plaque unveiling outside his childhood home in Lancaster Road, Finsbury Park. Picture: English Heritage/Lucy MillsonRelatives of Laurie Cunningham at the plaque unveiling outside his childhood home in Lancaster Road, Finsbury Park. Picture: English Heritage/Lucy Millson

Laurie Cunningham was the first ever black player to represent England at under-21 level, at a time when racism poisoned the terraces. And in 1979, he became the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid, one of the world’s biggest clubs.

This was recognised by English Heritage on Wednesday, when the charity unveiled a blue plaque in his memory in Lancaster Road, Finsbury Park. Laurie, born in Brookside Place, Archway, died in a car crash in Madrid in 1989.

He is only the second ever footballer to have been recognised with a blue plaque. The other was England World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore. Anna Eavis, of English Heritage, said: “We are honouring an incredibly gifted footballer who paved the way for many other black players.”

Laurie, seen as one of football’s original style icons, was subject of an exhibition in Finsbury Park’s Park Theatre last year. Read our interview with its curator, Dermot Kavanagh, here.

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