John Charles captained the West Ham team that defeated Liverpool to win the FA Youth Cup in 1962-63 and was capped by England at youth level. John was the first black player to captain a team to win a major trophy. He established himself as a regular full-back in the Hammers line-up in 1965-66 and was a team member defeated by Borussia Dortmund in the semi-final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup that season. He played most of his games besides the great Booby Moore. One of the few black players to appear in top-flight football in the 1960s. He was eventually released at the end of the 1970-71 campaign. In his time in the game, he played with his brother Clive Charles while at West Ham. Clive was to go on and coach the US National Men’s Team.
Upon retiring due to injury, John ran a family greengrocery business before moving to Spain. He returned to England before his death from lung cancer. John Charles will be remembered as a pioneer and the first black player to represent England at youth level, being capped 5 times.
Name: John William Charles
Born: 20 September 1944
Clubs: West Ham United (May 1962 to 1971) 118 Appearances
Senior debut for West Ham United vs. Blackburn Rovers – 4 May 1963 (Div 1)
Main Image – Popperfoto