Laurie Cunningham Statue unveiled
Kick It Out, Leyton Orient and Waltham Forest Council all played their part in helping honour the legacy of Laurie Cunningham on Thursday 30 November.
Back in March 2016, a fundraising campaign was started to build a statue in Leyton to celebrate the story of the O’s favourite.
Cunningham shone in E10 and was one of the first black players to play for England during the 1970s when racism was prevalent in the game.
Success at Brisbane Road led to a high-profile transfer to West Bromwich Albion where his performances earned him a Three Lions call-up in 1979 before a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid occurred – making him the first British player to join Los Blancos.
At Madrid, Cunningham won the double before spells with Manchester United, Sporting Gijon, Marseille, Leicester City, Rayo Vallecano and Charleroi followed.
Then in 1988, 14 years after his Orient debut, he was involved in the Wimbledon squad which won the 1988 FA Cup with a shock victory over Liverpool.
Cunningham was killed in a car accident in Madrid in 1989 at the age of just 33.
Nevertheless, his feats in the 1970s and 80s paved the way for other black athletes across the country to enjoy sporting success.
The idea for the statue was initiated by the former leader of Waltham Forest Council, Councillor Chris Robbins and the renowned sculptor Graham Ibbeson was commissioned to design the statue.
The statue is modelled on a famous photograph of Cunningham, taken when he was in action for Real Madrid.
At approximately 2.2m tall, it has been constructed entirely from bronze and is now proudly located in the Coronation Gardens, a stone’s throw from Brisbane Road.
Hundreds turned out to witness the statue unveiling with Cunningham’s son Sergio paying tribute to his late father.
Troy Townsend, Education Manager at Kick It Out, was in attendance at the unveiling. Troy commented: “Kick It Out was delighted to show its support to the unveiling of the Laurie Cunningham Statue in Coronation Gardens in Leyton.
“Laurie was a hero of mine when I was growing up, with his fabulous talent shining through despite overt racism being rife in football at the time.
“It was a wonderful occasion that recognised one of the most iconic footballers to have ever played the game.”
From: East London Advertiser