EXCLUSIVE With Paul Canoville – Pt-1 – Life, Times and Racism

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Updated: October 21, 2015

Paul Canoville, a Chelsea legend and the club’s first ever black player sat down with Chelsea Index for an exclusive interview, talking about the difficulties he has faced in life, to Chelsea’s poor form this season, before speaking about his trip to India as part of a football clinic where he would also spend time with his fans.

Canners, as Paul is affectionately known among the fans, has gone through a lot in life. From being racially abused by his own set of supporters to coping with the death of his nine-day old son, he has fought past everything that life has thrown at him and has managed to stand tall.

“Life was pretty difficult after football, having to finish at an early age didn’t go down too well with me and obviously I had to find something else to do, another career. I went down spiral which involved me getting involved with drugs, having cancer 3 times, getting depressed and my son dying in my arms at the age of 9 days old.

“Then, yeah, I decided I needed to change my life, and the reason, by doing that I had to go to rehab and then coming out with a much clearer mind and that’s what made me able to join Chelsea and be working on their education department”, the legend said when asked how life was treating him after his football career ended prematurely due to a knee injury.

While the atmosphere at the Bridge has become much less vitriolic since his days, he still feels that racism exists, and the sanctions need to be harsher.

“The days I played at Chelsea, it was kind of torrid. The majority of the fans that were being racist to me, so it was difficult for me to find my confidence throughout the home games. But it has changed, a lot has changed. Yes, there still is racism, but we have more organisations to fight that – the likes of The Red Card and the Kick It Out and Fear is something, and an organisation that I work with too.

“It’s just to make sure that the kids, the youth, and you know, the elderly are aware of what racism is and the effect it does. So, I think the FA here and throughout the country are getting strong with it but it’s still there, creeping in. It’s just how we deal with it needs to be dealt with a bit more severely, I think. That’s my opinion.”

When asked his opinion on the Paris tube incident last year when Chelsea fans racially abused a Parisian before the Champions League match against PSG, he couldn’t state his disappointment, going on to question whether they were really Chelsea fans!

“I was pretty upset when I heard of the situation that happened in Paris, before the Champions League game. Why? Because of the work that I was doing and Chelsea are doing to eradicate racism at the club. It isn’t, as such, everybody because of that past thinks that there’s so much racism that’s going on with Chelsea – it isn’t”, he quipped.

“We do a lot of work behind the doors. Even at games, home games, stewards are allocated, any fan that makes any racism gestures are called upon and that person will be escorted outside of Stamford Bridge and probably banned for life. So it was hurtful to hear that, I had to question whether to think they were real, honest Chelsea supporters.”

In the upcoming parts of the interview, Paul Canoville answers questions on Chelsea’s current form and his upcoming visit to India.

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