First Nigerian Footballer to Play for England

Posted by Timige, On 25 Dec, 2020 | Updated On 7 Dec, 2021 No Comments »

Benjamin Odeje is the first Nigerian to play football for England. He was also the first African and first black man to do this. He was signed by Charlton Athletic and played against Northern Ireland in1971

Benjamin Odeje made history by becoming the first African to play soccer for England. He is first black England player.

16-year-old Benjamin, from Nigeria, was picked for England schoolboys against Ireland at Wembley, 4th March 1971.

Photo by Julian Brown/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Benjamin Odeje (born in 1955) is an English former footballer. He was the first black footballer to represent England at any level.

Signed to Charlton Athletic, he played in five schoolboy internationals, making his debut against Northern Ireland at Wembley in 1971.

Odeje was born in Nigeria and as a child moved to England with his parents. The family lived in south-east London, where Odeje attended South East London Secondary School in Deptford, and his mother worked as a nurse.

In March 1971, as a 16-year-old, he was selected for the England schoolboy’s team to play Northern Ireland schoolboys at Wembley.

His father was concerned that the considerable publicity surrounding Odeje’s selection, as “the first African to play Soccer for England”, might make him “a marked man” in the match. Playing out of position on the right wing, Odeje helped his team to a 1–0 win.

He had acquired the nickname “Pelé” by scoring nearly 400 goals in three seasons in schools football, and for the match against the Netherlands schoolboys team in April; he played in his natural position at centre forward.

He still lives in London with his Family till date.

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