Uckfield six-year-old Leo Lufkin has been promised an invitation to visit Chelsea Football Club Academy once the Coronavirus pandemic is over.
That’s because the St Philip’s Primary School pupil created a drawing of Paul Canoville, the first black player to join Chelsea and it is to take pride of place in the academy reception area.
The family’s delight at Leo being singled out is currently tinged with anxiety because the iconic player is critically ill in hospital following emergency surgery.
See a story in the Evening Standard: Paul Canoville, Chelsea’s first black player critically ill in hospital.
Leo chose to draw Paul as part of a school project to mark Back History Month.
His mum Melissa shared the drawing with the former winger on Twitter and he responded saying he loved it, then shared the drawing himself saying: “Being remembered even by a six-year-old. Clearly looks like me.”
The drawing was shared many times over until it caught the attention of Chelsea Football Club who agreed to frame the original and hang it in the academy for all youth players to see.
Leo’s choice of subject was influenced by his stepfather Phil Byrne, a Chelsea season ticket holder, who has supported the club since he was a child.
Racism and abuse
He remembers watching Paul Canoville play and how great he was, but also the terrible racism and abuse he suffered during the 1980s.
Paul now runs his own foundation to engage with, and motivate, young people facing adversity. He also campaigns against racism.
Phil is delighted that Leo’s drawing has been so well received and pleased that Chelsea’s young players will see it and be reminded of one of the club’s iconic players.
He added: “Paul Canoville was a hero when I was young and it was great that he liked Leo’s drawing. Now the whole family wish him all the best while he is in hospital.”