How Viv Anderson paved the way for BAME players in England

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England went to this summer’s World Cup with their most diverse tournament squad ever – a fitting tribute 40 years on from Viv Anderson’s historic call-up.

Anderson was the first black player ever to represent England when he was first selected in November 1978, an occasion marked by a telegram from the queen.

Here, Press Association Sport tracks the progression from Anderson’s first tournament appearance to Gareth Southgate’s squad in Russia this summer which featured 12 BAME players out of 23.

Anderson paves the way

BAME players in England tournament squads
(PA Graphic)

He moved on before the 1990 World Cup – the first squad to feature three BAME players, with Barnes joined by defenders Paul Parker and Des Walker. For the 1992 European Championship the total rose to four – 20 per cent of the squad – with Barnes and Parker out of the picture but Walker joined by Keith Curle, Carlton Palmer and Tony Daley.

With England failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, only three players from 1992 remained in the Euro 96 squad on home soil but the new-look squad still contained three BAME players out of 22 – Paul Ince, Sol Campbell and Les Ferdinand – to maintain the trend for the decade.

Ferdinand’s cousin Rio made it four at France 98, while it was three at Euro 2000 as both Ferdinands dropped out but Emile Heskey was selected.

The big leap forward

England's 2002 World Cup squad prepare to depart
England’s 2002 World Cup squad featured nine BAME players (Nick Potts/PA)

That high watermark was not matched until 2016 but the level has remained above 30 per cent in every tournament bar the 2014 World Cup.

Cole, James, Heskey, Campbell and later Glen Johnson became mainstays of the squad while Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Joleon Lescott each appeared in at least one squad between 2004 and 2012.

The 2014 squad still contain six BAME players, 26 per cent of Roy Hodgson’s squad, with Danny Welbeck – who made his first tournament appearance in 2012 – and Raheem Sterling still integral to England’s attack.

Euro 2016 saw a return to the previous record tally of nine – defenders Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Chris Smalling, Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand, Dele Alli in midfield and Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford operating in attacking areas.

Walker, Rose, Alli, Sterling and Rashford remained at this summer’s World Cup, Welbeck returned for a third major tournament and Young his second while there were first squad places for Kieran Trippier, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trent Alexander-Arnold in England’s most diverse squad to date – 12 BAME players making up over 52 per cent of Gareth Southgate’s selection.

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