Paul Ince breaks through a barrier when handed the captaincy of England…
Paul Ince made history by becoming the first black player to captain England when they faced the USA as part of the US Cup tournament.
The United midfielder’s landmark moment came 15 years after Viv Anderson had become the first black player to represent his country at senior level, but because the England captaincy was a national debating point, the focus on Ince’s honour was heightened.
England manager Graham Taylor opted for Ince in the absence of David Platt and Tony Adams, and in pure footballing terms it reflected the impact made by the combative midfielder, who had made his international debut less than a year earlier.
But on a wider scale it was a hugely significant moment. Black players had suffered appalling abuse in the years before Ince was named as England skipper, with John Barnes notoriously heckled by England supporters in 1984 just days after his famous goal against Brazil.
The match itself went disappointingly for England, who slipped to a 2-0 defeat, but the impact of Ince wearing the England captain’s armband for the first time had more positive repercussions in the long term.
When made captain of England again in 1997, Ince commented: "When I was first given the armband, a lot was made of the fact I was the first black skipper. I'd have preferred it if it had been said I was just the new skipper.''
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