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Chelsea legends relive their past

HONOUR: Paul Canoville, second right, was the recipient of a Football Black List award last year

AS PART of Black History Month, Paul Canoville and other Chelsea stars will share their stories at a ‘Black & Blue Legends’ event.

Canoville, now 56, was signed by Chelsea from Hillingdon Borough in 1981, and went on to win the Second Division title with the club in 1983–84.

However, he was more notable as the first black player to play for Chelsea – and for the negative reception he received from racist club supporters.

Black & Blue Legends will see some of the club’s biggest names discuss their career achievements and highlights while touching on the social challenges they faced.

Hosted by Pat Nevin and Neil Barnett, among the players to take centre stage alongside Canoville will be Eddie Newton, Andy Myers, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ken Monkou and Paul Elliott.

The occasion is endorsed by the Paul Canoville Foundation, a registered charity established in May 2015, which draws on the life story, experiences and commitment of the founder to support young people in overcoming adversity.

Canoville told The Voice of “Given Chelsea’s not so glorious past having to deal with racism, they have certainly come a long way from the days when I started my career.

“For one of the biggest clubs in Europe to have such a diverse fan base and a large mixture of multi-cultural players of black heritage is important.”

Canoville’s link with the club is maintained in his role as a facilitator of match-day hospitality at Stamford Bridge. “I am delighted to be still involved with the club. They continue to express an interest in myself and the Paul Canoville Foundation, so much so that they have made it possible for me to host the relaunch of the foundation.

MENTORING

“The panel discussion was something that I was unable to do last year due to a life- threatening illness, I was hospitalised. This year is definitely brighter! God has helped me bounce back to continue the mentoring and support of young people so desperately in need.

“It takes a village to raise a child and I can’t do it alone or without the help of sound financial backing. The foundation needs do nations to sustain the work needed to reach out to our youth and keep them from a life of crime.

“We need to teach them life skills and resilience to deal with obstacles and challenges that they face. It’s a different world to the one you and I grew up in. Being a child and a parent has changed, with parents feeling restrained by laws and legislation to raise their children as they feel is best.

“There is also a lot of peer pressure on our youth and instead of getting an education and a job to make their parents proud. The onus is on looking good, getting rich, and being popular.”

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