Ex-Sunderland footballer turns down MBE as it would be 'betrayal of Africans'

Howard Gayle, right, during his Sunderland days, in a race for the ball with Steve Bruce of Norwich City, who would manage the Black Cats many years later.
Howard Gayle, right, during his Sunderland days, in a race for the ball with Steve Bruce of Norwich City, who would manage the Black Cats many years later.

A black footballer who played for both Sunderland and Newcastle United has turned down an MBE - because he says to accept it would be "a betrayal" to Africans.

Toxteth-born Howard Gayle, 58, who was the first black player at Liverpool, said he was offered the honour for his work with Show Racism the Red Card.

But he explained on his Facebook page that his "ancestors would be turning in their graves after how Empire and Colonialism had enslaved them" if he did not decline.

He said: "This is a decision that I have had to make and there will be others who may feel different and would enjoy the attraction of being a Member of the British Empire and those 3 letters after their name, but I feel that It would be a betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of Empire."

Gayle began his career with Liverpool in 1977 and made the headlines after becoming the first black player to play for the Anfield side.

After loan spells with Fulham and Newcastle United he joined Birmingham City in search of regular first-team football.

He played 48 games for Sunderland, scoring four times, between 1984-86, and was a member of the side which lost the 1985 Milk Cup final to Norwich City.

After a short spell in the United States playing indoor football with the Dallas Sidekicks he returned to England and played for Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers, before ending his career with Halifax Town.