An Ode to Black Football: Southampton’s Danny Wallace


More than 25% of professional players in England are black or from ethnic minorities, and things are improving for black players in football. But we haven’t beaten racism yet. There are only 14 black managers of the 230 clubs that make up the seven tiers of English Football. Hopefully this number increases soon, as there have been many talks about the Rooney Rule, a rule used in the American National Football League, which requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for the manager role once there is a vacancy.

Danny Wallace, born David Lloyd Wallace, is the second youngest footballer – after Theo Walcott – to pull on the Southampton shirt. The London born footballer played for local club Deal Town when his potential ability attracted scouts from the likes of Arsenal, Millwall, and Southampton. At just 13 he joined the Saints and was rated as one of the brightest young players in the country.

The number of talented black players in the English First Division was increasing at a huge rate in the 1980s. Wallace being one of them. The great John Barnes another. Paul Ince was also remerging from the scene, playing for United at the same time as Danny Wallace. Both Ince and Barnes even captained the England side. All these players proved to be such a significant inspiration to the younger generation, and saw this by the rise of Black players in the Premier League now.

Wallace suffered from many detrimental injuries that caused great distress to him during his time at Manchester. In 1996 he discovered the reason why his multiple injuries had occurred and had affected him so greatly. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and thus was forced to retire from football. However, Wallace did not let his diagnosis get him down and later set up the Danny Wallace Foundation in order to raise awareness of MS. 10 years later, Wallace ran the full London Marathon in 5 days, raising money for his foundation and helping people to cope with MS.

The forward made his debut against Manchester United – one of his future teams – when he was 16. 47,783 supporters at Old Trafford saw him coming on for the injured Kevin Keegan with the match ending 1-1. At this moment he became the youngest player ever to play for Southampton with his record standing for over 25 years.

During his nine-year spell at Southampton Wallace made 323 appearances, scoring a total of 79 goals to become one of the leading goal scorers at the club. One of Wallace’s most famous goals was at home to Liverpool during the 1983/1984 season where Danny scored an absolute beauty. A goal so good that it was voted as the 1983/1984 goal of the season. That season the team finished second, just three points behind eventual champions, Liverpool.

Wallace signed for Manchester United in 1989 for a record fee for a Southampton player, 1.2m. He then joined Millwall on loan before moving to Birmingham City in 1993.


Feature image by Charlotte Richards.



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