Museum hosts first curatorial summit for Black footballers

The National Football Museum today hosted the inaugural co-curatorial summit for a brand new exhibition that tells the important story of Black footballers in the English game.

The exhibition opens at the museum in autumn 2025 and is co-curated by the National Football Museum and a representative panel of football professionals and academic leaders in equality, diversity and inclusion, including:

Dr Paul Ian Campbell (Chair), Associate Professor in the Sociology of race and inclusion and is the inaugural Director of the University of Leicester Institute for Inclusivity in Higher Education.

Sagal Abdullahi is a community organiser, creative producer and co-founder of Barakah LDN, a grassroots community collective that aims to increase the number of Muslim and minoritised women and girls in football and football coaching.

Kerry Davis, a Lionesses’ all-time top scorer and the first Black player to play for the women’s national side, forming a crucial part of the Lionesses attack for almost sixteen years. Kerry was inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2022.

Brian Deane, English Football Manager in Norway’s top division with Sarpsborg. Former player most notably with Leeds United and Sheffield United, with 652 league appearances and 194 goals in his 21 year senior career. Brian scored the first goal in the Premier League in 1992 for Sheffield United against Manchester United.

Bruce Dyer, former professional footballer and England U21s national. Bruce had 469 league appearances with 119 goals with clubs including Crystal Palace, Barnsley and Watford.

Alicia and Yvonne Johanneson, daughters of the legendary Albert Johanneson, one of the first high-profile Black men, of any nationality, to play top-flight football in England. He is recognised as being the first person of African heritage to play in the FA Cup final, in 1965 for Leeds United.

Dr Viji Kuppan is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Justice in Sport and Society at Leeds Beckett University. Viji focuses on the intersections of race, disability and gender through the lens of Critical Race Theory. He is about to start work as a Researcher on a new project about racism in rural areas at the University of Leicester.

Anika Leslie-Walker, Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport in the Department of Sport Science at Nottingham Trent University. Anika is a Non-Executive Director at Manchester Football Association.

Leon Mann MBE, Founder of BCOMS and Co Founder of the Football Black List. Leon also owns and runs a leading sports consultancy and production company – Refresh Sports. Leon received his MBE in 2021 in recognition for his work promoting diversity and equality in sport and the media.

Nikita Parris, English professional footballer with Manchester United Women and England Women national team, where she started her international career with the U17s. To date she has 71 senior caps and scored 17 senior goals for her country.

Mary Phillip, is a former English international footballer and a football team manager who manages men’s Kent County League team Peckham Town. Mary was the first Black England Women’s football team player to captain her country and achieved 65 caps.

The exhibition will provide a platform to share and celebrate football stories and landmark moments involving players with African and Caribbean heritage, including historic trailblazers and contemporary players in today’s game.

Over the next two years, the panel will further define the exhibition narrative and content to create an accessible and impactful exhibition with an accompanying programme of community engagement to educate, inform and leave a tangible legacy for future generations.

The exhibition will be a programmatic highlight of the museum’s Football Creates initiative, which uses the unrivalled power of football to engage people and communities in creativity, championing inclusion and improving wellbeing.

Tim Desmond, CEO of the National Football Museum said: “Inclusion in football is core to the National Football Museum’s purpose and our Football Creates programme. This exhibition will be the first of its kind at the museum to solely focus on the experiences of Black footballers, which is why it is vitally important we engage this community in the development of the exhibition. It is an honour for us to have the support of such a significant and influential group of contributors.”

Dr Paul Ian Campbell of the co-curation panel said: “This is an incredibly exciting and much-needed project and we very much welcome the opportunity to co-curate alongside the National Football Museum team. This is an amazing opportunity create something truly ground-breaking, to challenge perceptions, and to harnesses the power of football to make positive change happen.”

The exhibition will open at the National Football Museum in Manchester in autumn 2025.