Jack Leslie inducted into the NFM Hall of Fame

Jack Leslie, the Plymouth Argyle goalscoring marvel, and first ever black player to be called up for England, has been posthumously inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Jack was born in Canning Town and started his career playing for non-league Barking Town (now Barking FC). In his later years he worked in the West Ham United boot room, only retiring at the age of 82. Jack was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame at The London Stadium prior to their derby-tie against Chelsea. Poignantly, the game is one of the Premier League’s dedicated No Room For Racism matches.

National Football Museum CEO Tim Desmond was pitch side to present the award to Jack’s three granddaughters, alongside the team behind The Jack Leslie Campaign.

The Jack Leslie Campaign endeavoured since its inception in 2020, to celebrate, shine a light, and serve justice to the career and legacy of Jack Leslie. What started as a conversation between campaign co-founders and Plymouth Argyle fans Matt Tiller and Greg Foxsmith, soon became much bigger.

Almost three years on, Jack Leslie has been eternalised in bronze outside Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park stadium, and the FA has even awarded Jack a posthumous honorary England cap, 97 years after his original call-up.

“We are delighted that fans from across the football community have responded positively to Jack’s story, and none more so than fans of Argyle where Jack played professionally and West Ham where Jack was welcomed and still remembered fondly by legends such as Clyde Best and Sir Trevor Brooking. His induction into the NFM Hall of Fame is a great honour, welcomed by the Campaign and Jack’s family.”

West Ham United, who are proud to recognise Jack as an important part of the club’s history, have also commissioned a bronze maquette of the statue created by sculptor Andy Edwards.

jack leslie maquette
A maquette on display at the National Football Museum.

Sir Trevor Brooking, West Ham United club legend, said:

“Jack was a lovely guy who would do anything for you, and I am delighted to see him honoured with this special induction into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.

“Jack’s story serves as an important reminder of the discrimination that Black players have suffered in years gone by, and it shows how they paved the way for those who followed them to be treated equally and become heroes, judged on their ability and skill rather than the colour of their skin.

“West Ham United is a club that is proud of our diverse and inclusive background, something that stretches back for so many years, and Jack will forever be remembered as a key figure in our history.

“It is very poignant for Jack to receive this honour ahead of a designated Premier League No Room for Racism match as it reinforces a vital message.

“I know that he would be so proud to receive this special honour at the London Stadium, and it is wonderful to have his family and members of The Jack Leslie Campaign to accept this on his behalf.”

The National Football Museum Hall of Fame aims to celebrate and highlight the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution to football. Judges voted unanimously to induct Jack in recognition of his stellar career and important story, laying foundations for the ethnically diverse sporting community of the future.

Jack, who was born in Canning Town to a Jamaican father and English mother started his footballing career playing for Barking Town. Predominantly a left sided forward, he is reputed to have scored over 250 goals and taking them to Senior Essex cup glory in 1920 and the London League Premier Division title the following year.

That same year, Jack joined Plymouth Argyle, where he found success as an inside-left, the position which in his time saw him claim the fabled number 10 shirt) scoring 137 league goals in 400 games making him Argyle’s fourth highest goalscorer of all time.

A serious eye injury forced him to retire as a professional in 1935 and, after returning to his East London roots and original trade as a boilermaker in the East India Docks, went on to work in the boot room at West Ham in the 1960s and 1970s. He was being offered the job by West Ham’s manager at the time, Rob Greenwood, who recognised Jack as a brilliant player. During his time at the Hammers he looked after the boots of England World Cup winners Sir Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters.

Tim Desmond, Chief Executive of the National Football Museum, said:

“In 2019 we relaunched the National Football Museum Hall of Fame to be more representative of those players who have acted as trailblazers for the modern game.

We are very proud to induct the first ever black player to be called up to the England men’s team and for his story to become part of our country’s football heritage.”

Jack joins acclaimed and proud company, most recently: Kerry Davis, Carol Thomas, Walter Tull, and Paul Ince. you can find the full list on our website here:


The NFM Hall of Fame, supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association, celebrates the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game, either on or off the pitch.