The Sunderland goalkeeper who became a war hero

A close-up  on a footballing and war hero.
A close-up on a footballing and war hero.
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A footballing legend and war hero has had his remarkable story revealed in a new book.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of terraces favourite Leigh Roose.

Leigh Roose.

Leigh Roose.

His talents as a goalkeeper – at clubs including Sunderland, Stoke City, Everton and Arsenal – was outstanding. When one national newspaper put together a World XI to take on another planet, Leigh’s was the first name on its team sheet.

But in 1914, one of Britain’s most famous sportsmen went off to play his part in the First World War. Like millions of others, he would die. Unlike millions of others, nobody knew how or where. Until now.

Lost in France is the true story of Leigh. The book describes him as a playboy, scholar, soldier and the finest goalkeeper of his generation, a Welsh international.

It is also the tale of how one man became caught up in a global catastrophe, a story filled with tragedy.

A memorial  tribute to Leigh who died at the Somme in 1916.

A memorial tribute to Leigh who died at the Somme in 1916.

It describes how Leigh came to be listed – falsely – as ‘missing, presumed dead’ at Gallipoli in 1915.

It looks at his bravery at the Battle of the Somme, where he was decorated with the Military Medal, and the circumstances surrounding his death at the Somme in October 1916.

Lost in France describes why a simple spelling mistake prevented his family from finding out how or where he had died for almost 90 years.

The book’s author is freelance journalist Spencer Vignes, who campaigned together with Leigh’s family, football historians and supporters to correct the spelling of Leigh’s name on the Thiepval Memorial in France, dedicated to the missing of the First World War.

Leigh in goalkeeping action.

Leigh in goalkeeping action.

Lost In France: The Remarkable Life and Death of Leigh Roose, Football’s First Superstar, by Spencer Vignes, is published by Pitch Publishing priced £8.99.

Next Friday – more on the man who played for both Sunderland and Stoke City.