Today at 5pm, I’ll be launching a Crowdfunder project to help fund the research and publication of a biography of the great, but little-known, footballer, Frank Soo.
Frank was unlucky, despite being the first player of Chinese origin to play for England, and being recognised by his contemporaries as one of the best footballers of his time, his playing career was curtailed at its height in 1939, when he was 25 years old. He spent most of the Second World War playing for the RAF, and as a guest player for teams like Everton, Chelsea and Newcastle United (among others). By the time the war was over, he was coming towards the end of his playing career.
He began coaching at Calcio Padova, and – perhaps because of personal tragedy – he spent much of the rest of his life abroad, including 25 years as a coach in Sweden. When he retired and returned to England, he appears to have led a lonely existence, dying of Alzheimer’s disease in 1991.
One of the initial reasons I decided to write about Frank was because I found that so much of the information about him that is readily accessible – in books and on the internet – is factually incorrect. Having contacted his closest living relatives, I found that I was right and even his name is incorrect in most cases. However, when I started reading about him, I quickly learned that his was a much more interesting story. It is difficult to understand how a player who many people described as the best they’d ever seen has all-but-vanished from the public memory. I would like to change that.
Frank was a pioneer in that he was the first Chinese (or indeed Asian) player to become an England international. Unfortunately, because his caps were all earned during wartime or immediately afterwards, they have never been recognised as “official” by the FA. Part of my motivation for writing this book is an attempt to change this and to, hopefully, find other ways of promoting the long-overdue recognition that this brilliant footballer deserves.
Crowdfunder page: Frank Soo Project