Very few people know that Jimmy Carter, who was the first British Asian footballer to ply his trade in the English Premier League was in fact a player with Indian heritage. He achieved the aforementioned feat in August 1992 when he made his Arsenal debut following an unsuccessful spell at Liverpool.
Now 55 himself, Carter’s father Maurice was born to Indian parents in Kanpur and spent most of his formative years in Lucknow. He eventually moved to England and married an English woman. The pair divorced after having two kids when Maurice took custody of him and his brother, bringing them up in Hackney, East London. His surname can actually be traced back to an English ancestor who had moved to India in the 17th century and having married an Indian lady, settled in the country.
Growing up in the 70s was tough for Carter. Being looked at as ‘different’ was something that he had to get used to over the years and random racist abuse was commonplace. He got his first break when Crystal Palace picked aged just 14. He stayed at the club for five years before moving on to Queens Park Rangers and then Millwall. It was at Millwall that he proved his mettle. Playing in a side that boasted of players like Tony Cascarino and Teddy Sheringham, he held his own and soon earned a switch to Liverpool under their legendary manager Kenny Dalglish.
He eventually moved to Arsenal and went on to play for Oxford, Portsmouth and Millwall again before hanging his boots in 1999. It may not have been the most glorious of careers, but he remains one of the very few who overcame socio-cultural barriers at a time when those plagued English society the most. In doing so, he paved the way for many others like him who have since taken up the beautiful game despite similar challenges.