Meet the 1st Black international English soccer player

Stephen Nartey December 13, 2022
Andrew Watson/Photo credit: Scottish Sports History

He captained the Scotland team to thrash England in a football derby that made screaming headlines and changed the face of English football in the 1800s. Andrew Watson was the first influential Black footballer who institutionalized the Scottish football style of ‘passing and running’ which has become a significant way of play in modern football.

He was 18 years of age when he migrated to Glasgow in 1875. He had no professional football experience, according to the BBC. However, within a span of six years, he had risen to become a dominant force to reckon with in English football earning him respect from many skilled and talented footballers at the time.

Watson participated in major football matches with England and in each game emerged with superior scores. He led Scotland to score England 6-1 in 1881. He clutched his second victory against England in a 5-1 win at the original Hampden Park. His third and final game brought Scotland another victory against England, making Watson’s international record a laudable three victories in three.

His style of play caught the attention of the English Football Association which contacted him to revolutionize the way players needed to strategically make their presence felt in the game of soccer. He was brought to join the new elite amateur team, Corinthian FC, as one of the first recruits. He popularized the dribbling style of football when he played for Corinthian FC.

Watson was nicknamed the ‘Scotch Professor’ because he trained his English colleagues and other major football clubs he joined the pass-and-run way of play. His style of play eventually phased away the traditional style of individuals dribbling with the ball until they lose it to an opponent or score in a goal post.

He was a public school-educated player who carried himself well and spoke with an upper-class accent among his teammates. This was because of his early beginning. His father, Peter Miller Watson, was a sugar planter who married a British Guyanese by the name of Hannah Rose with whom they had Watson and his sister.

Watson attended Health Grammar School where he socialized with the elite. He furthered his education at Glasgow University where he majored in mathematics but also found a passion for the game of football. He cut his education short and joined the Glasgow-based Parkgrove FC and later signed up for Queen’s Park FC, where he rose to become a colossus in the game winning many trophies.  

He played the full-back position for the teams he played. He however included the role of match secretary for the teams because of his high appreciation for figures. He ended his amateur football career at Bootle FC between 1887 and 1892. He went down in history as the first Black international footballer on record.

He later moved on to work on the ships in the position of a Marine Engineer. His father bequeathed him millions of pounds when he passed away in 1869.

Last Edited by:iboateng Updated: December 13, 2022


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