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Best named as a black British hero

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Clyde Best's exploits at West Ham United in the 1970s continue to inspire football fans, including one youngster who went on to become a major shareholder of London club Queens Park Rangers.

Tony Fernandes, who grew up Malaysia before moving to London and is now a successful businessman, is a West Ham supporter who remembers watching Best play, one of the few black players in the English game at the time.

As part of a BBC series, Black and British, over 80 high-profile individuals and school groups was asked to nominate the individual who inspired them in the areas of sports, science, law, medicine and arts and entertainment, using the hashtag #blackbritishhero.

People were nominated from all walks of life and the aim of the campaign is to celebrate brilliant black Britons who have made a contribution to their society, whether they are eminent professionals, stars of sport and entertainment, local heroes or ground-breaking talent.

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“My black British hero is Clyde Best from West Ham United,” Fernandes said.

“It is common to see black players now in British football. But in the early Seventies, with lots of racial abuse, Clyde Best stood up to all that adversity and paved the way for future generations of black British footballers.

“He inspired me on how to stand up to adversity. For that reason, Clyde Best, you are my black British hero. You're the man.”

Best recently released his autobiography, The Acid Test, when he spoke about the many challenges facing him as a young black player in England in the late Sixties and how he overcame those obstacles to become a top striker in the then First Division. His success inspired many young black footballers to dream of becoming professional players.

“There was a lot I had to go through, but when you embark on something like that, you can't think of yourself — you have to think of people coming after you,” Best said of his journey.

“When I look and see what is happening in English football today, it gives me great satisfaction.”

Ian Wright, the former Arsenal striker, named Laurie Cunningham, the former West Bromwich Albion and Real Madrid winger, as his black sporting hero.

“I remember him playing against Manchester United when he ripped them to shreds,” Wright said. “Sometimes people mention my name with Laurie Cunningham's which is high praise, but I don't feel I have done enough to get that praise. Just to be mentioned in the same breath is fantastic for me.”

Gabby Logan, a BBC presenter and former international gymnast, choose Olympian Daley Thompson as her black sporting hero.

He was charismatic, handsome, entertaining and an unbelievable athlete,” she said of Thompson. “I've been a fan of his ever since. Last year I even got to work with him at the World Athletics Championships.”

Top man: Best was an inspirational figure for Fernandes, an owner at QPR

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Published November 24, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated November 24, 2016 at 9:26 am)

Best named as a black British hero

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