UK News: English Heritage Unveils Blue Plaque Commemorating Footballer Laurie Cunningham


Today English Heritage unveiled a blue plaque to commemorate the life and legacy of footballer Laurie Cunningham. 

Footballer Laurie Cunningham was a talented forward player who enjoyed success with the Leyton Orient, West Bromwich Albion and the Spanish club Real Madrid. In 1979 he became the first black player to represent England in a competitive international match. His achievements are now commemorated with a blue plaque at his former home at 73 Lancaster Road in Stroud Green.

While living at 73 Lancaster Road, Laurence Paul Cunningham progressed from high school student to football star. He shared the three-storey end terrace with his parents, who were first generation immigrants from Jamaica, from 1967 until about 1976. He was a youth player with Arsenal for a while but made his professional debut with the East London team Leyton (now Leyton Orient) in October 1974. After scoring 15 goals in 86 league appearances, he was snapped up by West Bromwich Albion in March 1977.

Cunningham played for the England under-21 team against Scotland in 1977 and in May 1979 became the first black player to appear in a competitive international for the senior side. Injuries and club commitments meant he only played for England six times, and by his own admission he never fulfilled his footballing potential. Nonetheless his achievements as a black professional player at a time when racism was virulent undoubtedly paved the way for other black footballers. Ian Wright is among many to acknowledge their debt: ‘When I was playing football on the estate, he was the one I was trying to be like.’

Laurie Cunningham was killed in a car accident near Madrid in 1989, aged just 33.


Rest In Peace Laurie Cunningham.

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September 2016
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