Breaking England’s color barrier: Viv Anderson’s landmark international debut

This day in football history

(The FA)

On 29 November 1978, England beat Czechoslovakia 1–0 in a friendly at Wembley. England’s right back that day was Nottingham Forest’s Viv Anderson, making the appearance by a black player for England in a full international match.

Born in Nottingham in 1956, Anderson began his professional career with Forest in 1974 and became a regular starter the following year. An attacking right back, he was an integral part of the team that won the League in 1978, then back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980. He also won two League Cups with Forest (1978, 1979) and the 1980 UEFA Super Cup.

His impressive form during that successful run led England manager Ron Greenwood to call him up for the friendly against the Czechs. Midway through the second half, with the match scoreless, Anderson surged forward to create a opening for Tony Currie, who then crossed the ball into the box where a waiting Steve Coppell knocked home the day’s only goal.

Despite his excellent performance, Anderson had to wait until June 1979 for his second England appearance and didn’t feature in a competitive match until November 1979. In all, he received 30 caps, the last coming in 1988. He eventually retired in 1995 and was elected to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004.