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That Frank Soo story

It was in the middle of the Second World War that Frank Soo became the first non-white player to earn an England cap.

The Potters captain had been tipped for the top ever since he joined the club from Prescot Cables in January 1933, where he had played while working as an office clerk.

The half-back, whose dad Jack was a Chinese sailor who had settled in Liverpool, quickly became a cult hero on the Victoria Ground terraces.

He was adored for his silky skills, expert passing and prowess from direct free-kicks and competed a renowned midfield with bulldog Arthur Turner and athletic Arthur Tutin.

The crowd pleaser was approaching the peak of his powers at the age of 25 when the Second World War broke out and robbed him of the best years of his career.

Ironically, however, it took him guest-starring for Millwall while stationed in London to finally come to the attention of the national selectors.

He won nine wartime and Victory international caps in all, the first of those in May 1942 when England lost 1-0 to Wales in front of 30,000 at Cardiff.

Soo caught the eye as he “frequently broke up home raids” and he would get revenge by helping secure an 8-3 win over Wales the following year.

By the time peace returned, Soo was 31 and his younger brother Ronald had died aged 23 when his Lancaster bomber crashed near Wienberg-Weser, Germany.

He was still in the England squad but Stoke boss Bob McGrory decided to put his faith in 22-year-old Frank Mountford at club level and Soo was sold to Leicester City for £4,600.

He had moved on to second division Luton Town by the time league football resumed in 1946 and he soon embarked on a coaching career which took him around Europe.

Only one more player of Chinese descent has ever featured in the English league since, Sammy Chung, who served as Stoke assistant manager in the 1980s.

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