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An array of inspiring individuals from across Yorkshire were in attendance at the Football Black List (FBL) Regional Celebration at Elland Road in Leeds earlier this month.

The evening began with a tribute to the iconic Benjamin Zephaniah, who passed away earlier that day at the age of 65.

Supported by the Football Association, FBL Leeds was hosted by presenter Liam Loftus and footballer and comedian, Sapphire McIntosh, who was born and raised in Leeds.

Those awarded included several community role models, such as former footballer Lutel James, who is now the CEO of the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre and Shameeka Fishley. Fishley was born in Leeds and now plays for Bordeaux in France.

Accompanying the awards ceremony, the evening featured intriguing panel discussions with former Sheffield United and Leeds United player Brian Deane, who scored the first-ever Premier League goal in 1992 and Elana Davis, who is the founder and manager of BD3 United, based in Bradford.

Social media influencer and former BBC Radio Leeds presenter, Sanchez Payne was also involved, while the likes of Fraizer Campbell and Bradley Johnson were present in Leeds.

Campbell, who was born in Huddersfield and began his career at Manchester United said: “Events like these are massively important for changing people’s perspective on things. Getting in a room with like-minded people across the game, it’s great for the youth to look at people who look like them and grew up in similar places to them and see how their paths have taken them to such heights and hopefully that can inspire.”

Johnson, who left Leeds in 2011 and is now a player-coach at Derby County U21’s said: “It’s so important to recognise people for the work they do in the community. I’m a big supporter of FBL and I’ve been coming to these events up and down the country for many years now. To actually see diversity in football is a massive thing and you can see it both grassroots and in the professional game now. Events like this can only help that.”

Football Black List co-founder, Rodney Hinds added: “The community of Leeds ensured that the regional FBL was a resounding success. The appetite for the event was clear to see and all concerned are grateful for that. To the award winners and those in attendance, thank you and congratulations. There were so many inspirational stories and it was a joy to be in the room. And to have the Premier League’s first-ever goal scorer in the room in Brian Deane was an honour. As was the tribute to icon Albert Johanesson.”

Johanneson was the first-ever black FA Cup finalist back in 1965 and played for Leeds between 1961 and 1970. The South African winger was one of the first high-profile black men of any nationality to play top-flight football in England and served as an inspiration to so many, with Deane himself once stating: “As young, football-crazy lads growing up in Chapeltown, Leeds, in the early 70s, Albert Johanneson was a name we were all familiar with. He had been an inspiration for the next generation of footballing talent in the city.”  

The Football Black List would like to thank everyone who attended and played their part in making a memorable evening. 

Football Black List Leeds Awards Winners

Fuad Al-Jahadhmy

Stacey Daniel 

Lutel James 

Thomas Matthews 

Shameeka Fishley 

Richard Smith 

Click below to watch our FBL Leeds highlights film: 


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