Wednesday winger to hit the big-screen

A legendary Sheffield Wednesday footballer come actor is the subject of a crowdfunding campaign to make a film about his life.

Fred Spiksley just might be the best footballer you’ve never heard of. As well as Sheffield Wednesday winger, he was an actor, prisoner of war and the first Englishman to coach on three different continents – now a crowdfunding campaign has been started to turn a book about his life into a documentary.

Born in Lincolnshire in 1870, Spiksley led an extremely colourful life on and off the pitch. Playing as an inside forward he scored 170 goals for Sheffield Wednesday and was the first ever player to score a hat-trick for England. He was also the first professional player to be offered a three-year contract.

Mark Metcalf, co-author of the book, said that Spiksley deserves recognition and said: “You cannot ignore his game because of the talent that he had on the football pitch.

“He’d had a number of injuries which had actually ended his career earlier than should have been the case and he certainly would have gone to play into his forties and I’ve no doubt that he would have held many records across the world of football.

“I was completely unaware of his incredible record off the pitch which in many respects is greater than the talents he showed on it.”

Spiksley was coach of Nuremberg FC in 1914 when the First World War broke out and was subsequently imprisoned, but Metcalf says to call him a prisoner of war “might be a slight exaggeration.”

After the war, he returned to Nuremberg and became the first and last Englishman to manage a German side to win the title.

Metcalf points out that Spiksley also predicted the unfortunate future of English football: “He said the Germans would overtake us, people laughed at him, and obviously that’s proved to be exactly the case.”

Outside of football, Spiksley was bankrupt on many occasions, was involved in illegal betting rings and had a number of affairs. Metcalf says he was far from the “ideal man” but that his talent in football, and acting, is worth remembering and celebrating.