During a spell in Borstal Youth Prison, Paul Canoville was encouraged to go for trials at Chelsea. So on his release, Paul signed for Hillingdon Borough, and went for trials at Southampton, Wimbledon, West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea.
At the age of 21, John Neal offered him a professional contract and he became the first black player to play for Chelsea. Unfortunately, what should have become a dream come true soon turned into an appalling nightmare when he was subjected to vicious racial abuse from his own fans on his debut away at Crystal Palace.
Today, Paul has been recognised for his work in the community with ‘Kick It Out’ which is English football’s equalities and inclusions organisation for positive change and in 2015 he founded The Paul Canoville Foundation.
Having his career cut short through injury and encountering many obstacles and hardships such as racism, homelessness, drug addiction, cancer and mental health issues, Paul wanted to give something back to the community and youth in particular.
The Foundation works with schools and youth organisations to promote confidence, well being, diversity and resilience through workshops and sporting activities in conjunction with our partners.