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Former star striker Les Ferdinand hails legacy of Bermudian footballers

Les Ferdinand, right, during his time at Newcastle United (File photograph)

While he has yet to set foot on Bermuda's shores, Les Ferdinand is well aware of the island's significant contributions to English football.

The former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and England striker, who will be heading to the island later this year, is among many to have been inspired by local trailblazer Clyde Best, one of the first Black players to play professionally in England.

Ferdinand is also aware of the pioneering exploits of local legend Arnold Woollard, the first Bermudian to play professionally in Britain, at Newcastle, one of Ferdinand’s former clubs.

The 57-year-old also has had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders against Shaun Goater and played an integral role in securing Nahki Wells’s services on two loan spells at his former club, Queens Park Rangers.

“Clyde Best is one of the trailblazers for Black players in English football and someone I remember as one of the first generation of Black footballers talked about,” Ferdinand told The Royal Gazette.

“Harry Redknapp, who I worked under at Tottenham, always told fond stories of Clyde. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions now and he has always invited me over.

“Not enough is spoken about Arnold Woollard being the first Bermudian to play for Newcastle United and I have also played against and been in Shaun Goater's company on many occasions and regard him highly.

“In my role of director of football at QPR, I was involved in the process of bringing Nahki Wells to the club, so I am well aware of Bermuda’s contribution to football in the UK.”

Ferdinand joined Newcastle from QPR in 1995 for £6 million and went on to score 50 goals in 84 appearances for the club.

He formed a successful partnership with fellow striker Alan Shearer, the English Premier League's record scorer with 260 goals, and was adored by Newcastle supporters, who affectionately dubbed him “Sir Les”.

Ferdinand's spell at St James’ Park came to an end when he joined Tottenham, a club he supported as a boy, in 1997 also for a £6 million fee.

He scored 39 goals in 149 appearances for the North London club, where he earned a League Cup winner’s medal and formed a good partnership with German legend and World Cup winner Jürgen Klinsmann.

Ferdinand also had the honour of representing England on the international stage, scoring five goals in 17 appearances for the Three Lions between 1993 and 1998.

“I have had some amazing times as a player but the highlight would have to be representing the country,” Ferdinand said.

"When you think at the age of 18 and 19, I never believed I was going to make it into professional football and then coming in late in my 19th year, to go on to represent England, has to be a highlight."

Ferdinand will finally get the opportunity to visit Bermuda when he will appear as guest speaker at the Bermuda Football Coaches’ Association’s second fundraiser weekend.

The initiative is designed to raise the necessary funds to continue providing support to Bermudian and local coaches with a comprehensive education and licensing programme to provide direct access to world-class education.

“I am honoured to feel I can help in any way to support local coaches and coaching education in Bermuda,” Ferdinand said.

“It’s always important to tap into best practices to help improve oneself from different sources, and will be a pleasure to spend time with the coaches in Bermuda.

“I have never had the pleasure of visiting Bermuda and very much looking forward to the visit.”

Ferdinand will appear at the Pier 6 Complex on November 9, with doors opening at 5.30pm.

The moderated one-on-one discussion will follow from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, with questions from the audience to follow until 8.30pm.

• Tickets for the Speaker’s Night are $80 in advance until August 31 and $120 for all tickets purchased after August 31. Tickets can be purchased through ptix

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Published July 10, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated July 11, 2024 at 8:10 am)

Former star striker Les Ferdinand hails legacy of Bermudian footballers

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