Paul Ince was announced on 22nd June, as the newly appointed manager of the UK’s Premier League football club – Blackburn Rovers. He will be the first ever British black manager to coach a football team at the most top flight level. Previous black managers like Rudd Guillet of the Netherlands managed Chelsea but did not originate from the UK.
The Barclay’s Premiership League is one of the most highly regarded football leagues in the footballing world and Paul Ince has now introduced the next key change in British football. This being further to the advent of more and more black players joining the league around the 1970’s and 80’s. Including names like Viv Anderson, John Barnes and Paul Ince himself. Although, the first ever recorded black person to play football was Andrew Watson who played for Queens Park in Scotland and was capped three times for the national Scottish team between 1881 and 1882.
Paul has signed a three year contract with Blackburn, who are based in the North West of the UK. Ince has had a tremendous career at both club and national level.
- Started his career as a trainee with West Ham United in 1985.
- Moved to the notorius Manchester United in 1989 with whom he won many accolades.
- In 1992 Ince made his England national team debut.
- Chosen as the first black player to captain England in 1993 touring the USA.
- Signed by Inter Milan of Italy for a record fee of £7 million.
- Returned to UK Premiership football when Liverpool signed him in 1997 for £4.2 million.
- Played for England as captain even with a head wound in 1997 against Italy.
- Left Liverpool to join Middlesborough in 1999 and also played in Euro 2000 games for England.
- In 2002, left Premiership and joined First Divsion Wolverhampton Wanderers.
- Leaves Wolves to join league two Swindon in 2006 and then leaves his sole playing career after three games.
- Takes his first management job with lower league Macclesfield and signed as player-manager.
- In 2007 joins Milton Keyne Dons as manager and helps them win to League Two title in 2008 season.
- In June 2008 gets appointed a Blackburn Rovers manager.
Ince has not always been in the headlines for his achievements but also for his bans during his career, due to scuffles with fellow players, unacceptable abuse to referees and gestures not acceptable by the Fooball Association.
Now, Ince will have to prove himself at the highest level of British football. This brings great responsibility on him not just as a manager but as a black manager to become a role model for others.
This appointment also raises the question about the lack of British Asians in professional football. To date there has not been a significant representation by British born South Asians in the game. There is no doubt that there are British Asians who are good enough. Second and third generation Asians are now embedded in British culture and society and follow football like any other fanatic in the country – attending matches, playing and coaching in the country’s Sunday and Asian leagues.
So, the question arises why are not seeing similar appointments at a higher level in the game? What is lacking in British Asian players that does not allow them to get further than the basic leagues? Currently, this whole phenomenon is still a mystery to many and really needs more focus and action from the professional bodies.
Hopefully, appointments like those of Paul Ince, will pave the way for positive outlook for British Asians who also wish to make a career from the ‘beautiful game.’