Benjamin Odeje was the first black footballer to represent England at any level. Signed to Charlton Athletic, he played in five schoolboy internationals, making his debut against Northern Ireland at Wembley in 1971.
NAME: Benjamin Odeje
DATE OF BIRTH: 1955
PLACE OF BIRTH: Nigeria
CAREER AND PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES: Odeje was born in Nigeria and as a child moved to England with his parents. The family lived in south-east London, where Odeje attended South East London Secondary School in Deptford, and his mother worked as a nurse. In March 1971, as a 15-year-old, he was selected for the England schoolboys team to play Northern Ireland schoolboys at Wembley. His father was concerned that the considerable publicity surrounding Odeje’s selection, as “the first African to play Soccer for England”, might make him “a marked man” in the match. Playing out of position on the right wing, Odeje helped his team to a 1–0 win