West Ham United Academy graduate Paul Ince, who in 1993 became England’s first black football captain, has been inducted into the prestigious National Football Museum Hall of Fame.
The 53-year-old received his award from his former Manchester United team-mate, fellow Hall of Famer and England’s first black footballer Viv Anderson at a ceremony held at the newly opened Hall of Fame exhibition at the museum in Manchester recently.
Judges voted unanimously to induct Ince in recognition of his outstanding football career, both as a player and manager, his position as a trailblazer in the sporting community and his work to combat racial prejudice in sport.
Anderson was on hand to formally induct Ince into the Hall of Fame, handing over the trophy in front of family, friends and representatives of his former clubs, including legendary former Hammers Academy Manager Tony Carr MBE, who coached the midfielder through the youth ranks at Chadwell Heath in the 1980s.
After helping the Hammers’ reserve team win the Football Combination title in May 1986, Ince was handed his senior professional debut by John Lyall just a few months later in a Full Members Cup tie defeat against Chelsea at Upton Park, before he made his Football League bow just five days later at Newcastle United.
After scoring on his full home league debut against Southampton in December 1986, he went on to establish himself as one of British football’s hottest young talents. Ince’s most memorable performance in Claret and Blue shirt came in a 4-1 League Cup win over League Champions Liverpool in November 1988 – his two goals helping to catapult him into the national limelight.
He later went on to win 53 caps for England, captaining his country for the first time in 1993, as well as two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, a Football League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup during six years with Manchester United.
He also wore the colours of Inter Milan, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers, was player-manager of Swindon Town and Macclesfield Town and manager of MK Dons, Blackburn Rovers, Notts County and Blackpool. Since retiring from football, Ince has worked in the media.
Tim Desmond, Chief Executive National Football Museum, said: “Paul Ince has fully earnt his place in the Hall of Fame, he is a born leader on and off the pitch. His leadership qualities were evident from his first appearances as a teenager for West Ham United 35 years ago.
“The first black captain of the full England national team, he represented his country at the highest level and it is important to the National Football Museum that his pioneering story is told. The image of Paul Ince covered in blood and bandaged after a bruising World Cup qualifier against Italy in Rome remains one of the most iconic football photographs.
“Paul exemplifies the qualities needed to get into the Hall of Fame. As a player he was passionate, courageous, resilient and remains an influential figure in football.”
The Hall of Fame exhibition, supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association, celebrates the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game and features female and male inductees equally as part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.