Paul Canovilles story is one of extreme racist bigotry, shattering career-ending injury, a decline into drug abuse, battles against cancer, family tragedy and a determination to beat the odds. Canoville was Chelsea's first black first-team player, making his debut in 1982. But as he warmed up on the touchline, his own supporters began chanting 'We don't want the nigger!' The racist bile continued whenever he played, but within a year he had won over the terraces with his explosive pace and skill. Canoville fell out with the Chelsea board and moved to Reading in 1986, where injury suddenly ended his career at the age of 24. This started a downward spiral including the death of his baby in his arms, two bouts of life-threatening lymph cancer, drug abuse and homelessness. But Canoville fought back. In this explosive and shocking story, Paul finally explains why, despite everything, he is more positive than ever and has remained a fervent Chelsea fan all his life. This is a story of hope - eventually - overcoming adversity.
Paul Canoville was born in Hillingdon, London. Starting out playing for non-league Hillingdon Borough, Canoville signed for Chelsea in 1981. He made his debut against Crystal Palace in April 1982 aged 20. He joined Reading in 1986, where his career ended due to injury. He now lives in London, he is an ambassador for the 'Kick it Out' campaign and regularly talks to schools about his experiences.