Frank Soo – The first player of Black or Asian heritage to play for England

9 May 1942 saw the England debut of Frank Soo, the first player from a Chinese descent to play in the English Football League, and now the first player from a Black or Asian heritage to wear the shirt of the Three Lions. Born in Buxton (8 March 1914), Soo would start his career at Stoke City FC where he played alongside Stoke greats; Sir Stanley Matthews, Tommy Sale and Freddie Steel. He was regarded as one of the greatest defensive midfielders of his time and went on to become Stoke City captain in the 1938-39 season.

His career was interrupted in its prime by World War II where, like many of his contemporaries, he joined the Armed Forces. Soo’s greatest accolade was to play for England nine times in Wartime and Victory Internationals, making his debut against Wales in Cardiff. He also represented the Armed Forces and even captained the RAF England Select XI. Though not being awarded an official cap, he is acknowledged by the FA as being an England player and a campaign for an honorary cap is supported by many in football.
We celebrate his achievement of being the first person of colour to play for England.

‘The Frank Soo Foundation’ was founded after the release of “The Wanderer: The Story of Frank Soo” by Susan Gardiner and aims to tell Frank’s story and work with other ESEA organisations to help build better communities and support East or South East Asians in their journey in football. For more information on ‘The Frank Soo Foundation’, visit

A short video about the career of Frank can be viewed here.

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