New Year honour for ex-footballer and anti-racism campaigner

PUBLISHED: 22:30 28 December 2018

Rosenior in action for West Ham United. Picture: PA

Rosenior in action for West Ham United. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Ex-professional footballer, broadcaster and anti-discrimination campaigner Leroy Rosenior is to receive an MBE.

Rosenior when in charge of Torquay. Picture: Nick Potts/PA.Rosenior when in charge of Torquay. Picture: Nick Potts/PA.

Former Bristol City, West Ham and Queens Park Rangers striker Rosenior is to be awarded a MBE for his work tackling discrimination in football and throughout society with charity Show Racism The Red Card.

The 54-year-old is vice president of the campaign, and his many years of hard work tackling racism have been recognised with a royal accolade – which was announced in the New Year’s Honours List on Friday.

Rosenior has lived in Portishead for almost 15 years, and became a popular figure on the West Country football scene after a playing stint at Ashton Gate before becoming the manager of Torquay United.

The England youth international’s playing career spanned an era where black footballers faced racism ‘from all angles’, and following his retirement he has been working to rid the game and society of discrimination.

Rosenior when in charge at Torquay United. Picture: PA/Alistair WilsonRosenior when in charge at Torquay United. Picture: PA/Alistair Wilson

He will soon enjoy a trip to Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle for an Investiture, where he will receive his prestigious medal from a member of the royal family.

‘Proud’

Rosenior retired from playing 20 years ago, before working in management and broadcasting. His spare time has been spent volunteering as an anti-racism educator for Show Racism The Red Card, and he told the Times he is ‘proud’ to receive the accolade.

He said: “I’m delighted because of the work which has gone into it from a lot of people and what it means.

Rosenior when in charge of Torquay. Picture: Nick Potts/PA.Rosenior when in charge of Torquay. Picture: Nick Potts/PA.

“To be honoured because of anti-racism shows people are taking notice in the issue.

“My mum will be very proud. I haven’t told her yet but when she finds out I’m sure she will be delighted.

“But this award isn’t just for me – it’s on behalf of a lot of people. I’m very proud, but it’s also for my family and the people involved in the organisation”.

Rosenior in action for West Ham United. Picture: PARosenior in action for West Ham United. Picture: PA

What was it like to be a black footballer in the 1980s?

Rosenior’s played in an era marred by racial abuse for black players, and he admitted it was ‘difficult’ – not just on the pitch, but in the dressing room too – and he had to stay silent to get by.

He said: “There was not many of us, and to be honest it was difficult. You had to keep your mouth shut.

“Racism came from all angles, be it from the dressing room, the management or on the terraces. People did not recognise they were being racist.”

Rosenior when in charge at Torquay United. Picture: PA/Alistair WilsonRosenior when in charge at Torquay United. Picture: PA/Alistair Wilson

And while the atmosphere surrounding football grounds has changed significantly in recent years, racism has not been banished from the stands at.

In December, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, of Arsenal, were both subjected to alleged racist abuse at Premier League games – the latter having a banana thrown at him.

Rosenior believes the incidents confirm there is plenty of work still to be done to stamp out discrimination.

“The incidents involving Sterling and Aubameyang have brought the issue of racism to light again,” he said. “We’re always trying to convince people racism still is a big issue.

“Moving forwards I hope more people will take the issue seriously, and I hope people still want to tackle racism once and for all.”

Show Racism The Red Card

Show Racism The Red Card was founded in 1996 after financial support from then-Newcastle United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

The organisation is an education-based charity, which sends ambassadors and mentors into schools and businesses to educate people on racism.

Each year it works with more than 50,000 children with hopes 
of creating a greater understanding of racism and discrimination, and Rosenior has played a pivotal role both on the ground and as a senior member of the charity.

More opportunities for coaches from minority background

Eight teams of 92 in the Football League have a manager of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds – the most recent to be appointed being Sol Campbell by Macclesfield Town.

The number of managers from minority backgrounds has doubled since Rosenior was in charge at Plainmoor, but he feels more opportunities should be afforded to BAME coaches.

He said: “Eight managers from minority backgrounds is still not enough.

“I think it’s key we give more black managers an opportunity to give it a go.

“If there’s no-one who looks like you in your profession you’re not going to go into it.”

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