The name Frank Soo may not easily ring bell in Nigeria. But he was the English coach that Sir Stanley Rous who later became FIFA President recommended in 1958 to coach Nigeria when the then Nigeria Football Association made a request.
But Soo after initial interest, declined, opting for another job with Scunthorpe United, a second division club in the United Kingdom. In his place, Nigeria went for Eric Jones, also an Englishman.
Frank Soo, who is the first and only player of Asian heritage to represent England’s national football team, has been honoured by Google in the UK on Saturday (May 9) on the anniversary of his debut for his country.
It was in similar vein that Nigeria’s Samuel Okwaraji was honoured last year May on the occasion of his posthumous birthday. Stephen Keshi also had similar hnour last year during the anniversary of his death.
Soo, born in Derbyshire to a Chinese father and English mother in 1914, became a trailblazing figure in the sport after signing for Stoke as a teenager in 1933.
The first player of Chinese descent to play in the English Football League, he later became the first non-white player selected by England for a wartime friendly against Wales in 1942.
Often referred to as England’s forgotten footballer, Soo would go on to make nine international appearances – although none were recognised as official caps during World War II.
In collaboration with the Frank Soo Foundation, Google created a Doodle of Soo on their UK homepage to honour his memory and celebrate his inspiring legacy.
Soo, who captained Stanley Matthews while playing for Stoke, also turned out for Leicester, Luton and Chelmsford City.
He left England to take over as coach of Padova in Italy’s Serie A in the early 1950s before a lengthy spell in Scandinavia with a number of different clubs.
Soo also led Norway at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. He eventually returned to England and died in 1991 at the age of 76.