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Frank Soo

Frank Soo was an English professional football player and manager of mixed Chinese and English parentage.

He was the first player of Chinese origin to play in the English Football League, and the first non-white player to represent England, though in unofficial wartime matches.

  • Full name: Frank Soo
  • Born: 8 March 1914, Buxton, Derbyshire, England
  • Died: 25 January 1991, Cheadle, Staffordshire, England
  • Profession: English football player
  • Position: Forward, Midfielder

About Frank Soo

1914

Frank Soo was born on 8 March 1914 in Buxton, Derbyshire, and brought up in Liverpool, England.

His parents, a Liverpool-based Chinese sailor father, Our Quong-Soo, and an English mother, Beatrice Whittam, had married in Chorlton, Manchester in 1908.

The couple had moved to the village of Fairfield to open a laundrette, as was commonly done by Chinese emigrants in England at the time, before eventually moving premises to West Derby, Liverpool around 1920.

He had an elder brother, Norman, and several younger siblings: Phyllis, Ronald, Jack, Harold and Kenneth.

His brother, Ronald, was killed on 14 January 1944, while serving as an air gunner in No. 166 Squadron.

1938

Soo married hairdressing salon proprietor Beryl Freda Lunt in Stoke-on-Trent on 12 June 1938, and the couple honeymooned in Bournemouth.

Freda, as she was known, was a keen autograph hunter, and had initially introduced herself to Soo simply to ask for his signature.

The couple separated in 1951, and Freda died as a result of a barbiturate overdose on 10 March 1952; it was not known whether her death was intentional or accidental.

was an English professional football player and manager of mixed Chinese and English parentage. He was the first player of Chinese origin to play in the English Football League, and the first non-white player to represent England, though in unofficial wartime matches.

Career

He grew up in Liverpool and began his playing career with Prescot Cables, before he joined Stoke City for a £400 fee in January 1933.

He initially began his career at inside-left, though later became more established at half-back. A quick and intelligent player, he was an excellent passer of the ball.

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He made his first team debut in November 1933, and became established in the first team by the 1935–36 season.

He lost most of his best playing years to World War II, leaving him only able to serve in the Royal Air Force and play for Stoke and England in unofficial wartime games, as well as guest for numerous other clubs.

He was sold on to Leicester City for a fee of £4,600 in September 1945, and then moved on to Luton Town 10 months later for £5,000.

He joined Chelmsford City of the Southern League in May 1948, and retired as a player after two seasons.

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A stern task-master, he went on to coach various European clubs in the 1950s and early 1960s. He briefly coached Finnish club Helsingin Palloseura in 1949, before taking charge at Isthmian League side St Albans City for the 1950–51 season.

He was appointed manager of Italian Serie A club Padova in April 1951, but left the club 11 months later following the sudden death of his wife.

He went on to coach Norway at the 1952 Summer Olympics, then led Eskilstuna to promotion out of the Swedish Division 3 Östra in 1952–53.

He briefly managed Örebro, before he coached Djurgården to the Allsvenskan title in 1954–55. He then returned to lower league football with Oddevold, securing promotion out of Division 3 Nordvästra Götaland in 1955–56.

He coached at AIK in 1958, before returning to England to manage Scunthorpe United in June 1959. He took Scunthorpe to 15th in the Second Division in the 1959–60 season, before he resigned in May 1960.

From there he struggled to find work, spending short periods in charge at IFK Stockholm (Sweden), Fredrikstad (Norway), and Akademisk Boldklub (Denmark).