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 played most of his games besides the great Booby Moore. He was one of the few black players to appear in top-flight football in the 1960s.
John Charles West Ham Days
Under manager Ron Greenwood, John Charles played 36 times in all competitions during the 1965/66 season, becoming a regular for the first-team. The highlights that season was playing in the League Cup final and scoring his first senior goal in a fifth-round tie at Grimsby Town in November 1965.
His club reached the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup with him on the team. Charles was unable to be part of West Ham’s winning teams in the 1964 FA Cup Final and the 1965 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final because of injuries. 
As Ron Greenwood’s first-choice left-back for most of the next three seasons, Charles was eventually replaced by Frank Lampard Senior, with whom he shared a birthday. A series of injuries forced him to end his career early in the 1969/70 season. 
He was just 26 years old. When he finished playing football, he admitted to being a borderline alcoholic. In his time in the game, he played with his younger 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 Charles ran a family greengrocery business before moving to Spain. He returned to England before his death from lung cancer at the age of 57.
Charles represented England five times at the youth level, making him a true pioneer for not just West Ham United, but for the country as a whole.
Name: John William Charles
Clubs: West Ham United (1962 – 1971) 118 Appearances
Senior Debut: West Ham United vs. Blackburn Rovers – 4 May 1963 (Div 1)
Peter Robinson / Epics Sport (Main Images)