The World's First Football Superstar book cover

A Burntwood author is using his new book to tell the story of a forgotten footballing superstar.

Former history teacher Owen Arthur has shone a light on ex-Aston Villa player Stephen Smith.

The World’s First Football Superstar explores an era when elite footballers worked second jobs in order to supplement their sporting wages and feed their families,

A spokesperson for publisher Pen and Sword Books said:

“Buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of a small village in Oxfordshire lies the body of a footballing world champion from a bygone era shrouded in the mists of time.

“His name was Stephen Smith. This footballer of the Victorian and Edwardian era could claim as many league title winning medals as John Terry and Wayne Rooney, more league winners medals than Eric Cantona, Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer.

“This book is the never-before-told story of a footballer born at the end of the Industrial Revolution, son of agricultural labourers who became a miner, working underground combining that job with one as a professional footballer to rise to the top of the footballing world.

“Smith won trophy after trophy in the best and only professional league anywhere in the world at that time. He also scored the goal that made England World Champions in 1895.

“At the top of his game and in a move that mirrored the Premier League breakaway of 1992 and the recent ill-fated European Super League, Smith joined the newly-formed Southern League at a time when the Football League started to cap player wages.

“He did this in order to ensure his family’s future as well as end his reliance on his part-time earnings from mining.

“The book details the increase in earning power of footballers at the turn of the 20th Century and how working class men with a skill or trade could now command higher wages than ever before.

“It shows how football has changed very little in the last 130 years, loyalty and amateurism being long gone even in the 1890s.”

Pen and Sword Books spokesperson

The World’s First Football Superstar is available to purchase online.

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