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Clyde Best

Heavy built and black, Clyde Best did not look like the typical footballer that the fans expected to see playing back in the seventies. On appearance, many would expect him to be in the boxing ring as opposed to the football pitch.

Despite breaking the mould, Best went on to prove himself as a popular player and an important inspiration to English football fans and players, and has been referred to simply as 'The Legend' by other black players.

Born in Bermuda on 24th February 1951, Best gained his first cap at the age of 15 playing for the Bermudian national team. At 18, Best was signed for West Ham United and played his first match against Arsenal on 25th August 1969. He went on to play 188 League games for West Ham, scoring 47 goals between 1969 and 1976.

Playing alongside players such as Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst, Best played football at a time when it first became very high-profile and began to be focussed on as a form of entertainment. It was an exciting time for football, but a difficult time to be a black player. Best had to play amidst a lot of racism and hooliganism. He often was made the scapegoat for the failures of the teams he played for, an easy target as the only black player.

He left West Ham in 1976 and continued his career in the Netherlands and the United States. He later coached the Bermuda national team for three years from 1997 to 1999.

Clyde Best was awarded an MBE in Jan 2006 for his services to football and the community in Bermuda.

Sources:

'Colouring Over the White Line: The History of Black Footballers in Britain' by Phil Vasili

History of Black Footballers exhibition (Phil Vasili)

'England, Their England' by Nick Harris

all available for loan from the Football Unites library.

and www.bbc.co.uk

Clyd Best
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