In April 1981, Howard Gayle was summoned from the substitutes’ bench and sent on to play for Liverpool in the second leg of a European Cup semi-final at German champions Bayern Munich. The previous October, by filling the same role at Manchester City, he became the first black footballer in Liverpool’s 89-year history to play at first team level.
Gayle’s Liverpool career proved to be short. He would pull on the red shirt only five times in total, scoring once. Yet he is remembered as a trailblazer. In 61 Minutes in Munich, Gayle takes you inside his life: bringing the shutters down on a childhood spent between Toxteth and Norris Green, two contrasting areas of Liverpool. He details life on the streets, the racism, the other forms of abuse, of which he has only told a handful of people before, and his ascent from teenage football hooligan to a player with Europe’s leading club.
Howard Gayle was born in Toxteth, Liverpool in 1958. When his family were moved out of L8 due to the containerisation of the city’s docks in the early part of the 1960s, a childhood spent in Norris Green had a profound influence on the rest of his life. A Liverpool supporter, he followed the team home and away as a self-confessed football hooligan before he emerged from the terraces as a first team player. Howard later joined Birmingham City, taking in spells at Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers also. He now lives back in Liverpool’s south end, on the streets where he spent his earliest years.
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