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  • Writer's pictureJim Nixon

The Power Role Models Hold in Dealing with Racism with Matt Murray

The Power Role Models Hold in Dealing with Racism in Football with Matt MurrayDealing with Racism, Discrimination, and Hate: How Matt Murray Managed to be a Successful Professional Football PlayerDealing with Racism through Kindness: Matt Murray's Journey in Professional Football

Racism is everywhere, even in professional football. Matt Murray learned this the hard way. As a child, Matt was adopted by a loving home. His parents, although both white, showed him that his skin colour doesn't matter. Matt's upbringing is why he believes it is vital to have role models to look up to when you are young.

In this episode, Matt shares his earliest memory of dealing with racism. He didn't experience a lot of racism within his club, but outside of it was rough. Even as a child, there were times where not being white was especially hard for him.

Listening to this episode will help you gain important insights about dealing with racism and hate. Through exploring Matt's journey, you will learn the importance of integrating this topic into your child's education. Ultimately, you will realize what steps you can take to create a safer community for the next generation.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  • Hear about former professional football goalkeeper Matt Murray's experiences in dealing with racism in the industry.

  • Learn the importance of role models in educating the younger generation and keeping the community safe.

  • Find out more life lessons from Matt’s experiences that made him the man he is today.


  • The Noise App helps simplify noise to enhance reporting and investigation procedures. Check their website to find out how it can help you.

  • Visit our page, The Community Safety Podcast, to learn how communities can reduce crime, violence, and many, many more.

Episode HighlightsThe Young Matt

  • Matt’s biological mother is English, while his biological father is Nigerian.

  • He was adopted from birth by his white parents, who eventually separated and later married new partners.

  • Matt grew up being heavily influenced by his stepdad, Steve, to play football around the municipality of Lichfield.

  • He describes his upbringing as different but very enjoyable.

Having No Control Over His Situation

  • Matt knew he was adopted from the start because his adoptive parents were white. He also has an adopted brother whose dad is from Barbados.

  • Growing up, Matt always thought he was lucky to have been adopted by his parents. He couldn’t have felt more loved.

  • However, he also experienced dealing with racism growing up in a predominantly white area.

  • It was painful for his adoptive parents to see him being treated differently because of his skin colour.

  • When it comes to playing football, Matt experienced a different degree of racism. Despite that, he still grew up proud of his ethnicity.

Not Seeing the Colour

  • Matt reiterates how very fortunate he is with his adoptive parents. They were involved with orphanages in Nepal, Romania, and a lot of other charity work.

  • His parents experienced a different brand of stigma from adopting him.

  • Then, he met one of his inspirations, Sunday League Manager Don Astle.

  • Don Astle sees you, the person, the human being.

  • At the age of nine, he began playing football. Throughout his career, he experienced dealing with racism but also had an amazing time playing football.

The Importance of Role Models

  • Matt's parents always reminded him to avoid violence because it will only escalate things.

  • His parents taught him the importance of being passionate about educating people, especially kids, about racism.

  • Matt regrets not playing until the end of the Premier League season because he had injuries at the time.

Remembering His First Coach

  • Matt shares how his coach, Don Astle, almost went bankrupt for keeping the football club going.

  • By that time, Matt was so excited to play for Don. He will never forget how nervous he was for his first game at Cannock.

  • During the game, a player tripped over him while the ball was in his hands, and the referee, a white man, immediately awarded the other team a penalty kick. This was his first experience dealing with racism.

  • When his debut at Molineux came, Matt remembered how his coach was so proud of him.

  • If it weren’t for people like his coach, Matt wouldn’t have a career in playing football. Listen further to know about the other people that helped him in his football journey.

Guiding Kids to Improve Communities

  • Matt mentions a lady called Mrs Flash, who used to pick the kids up using a minibus.

  • Raising a child is a challenge, and not all parents have the time or money for football.

  • Matt credits the people who go the extra yard for youths.

  • As a professional footballer, Matt is in a position to make a difference. He wants to give his time back to his kids.

Realizing His Chance in Professional Football

  • It was always Matt’s dream to become a player. But he wasn’t the tallest, so he didn’t make it to England tryouts.

  • These tryouts are where Martin Thomas saw his potential as a goalkeeper.

  • He came back to the Wolves when he was 16, and they offered him a professional contract at 17.

Matt as a Coach

  • Matt believes that kids played too much back then.

  • Now, when it comes to coaching kids, he teaches his trainees to listen to their bodies.

  • The hardest thing for him is to realize that he was mismanaged before.

Matt’s Debut as a Player

  • After signing his contract for the Wolves, Matt experienced a lot of injuries playing for the team.

  • But a lot of these went away one summer after working so hard.

  • During one of his games against Wimbledon F.C., his father could not attend because of his wedding.

  • Despite being nervous about his injuries, Matt still played 47 games in a row.

  • He felt that his debut in Molineux was the most real in his journey.

Visualization of the Game

  • When he was a kid, Matt didn't focus on visualizing the game. He went with the flow of it. But as he got older, he became more serious.

  • To battle his nervousness, Matt tried hypnosis. However, words of affirmation helped him the most. He changed the way he perceived his plays.

  • Additionally, Matt is not a superstitious guy. But he likes to establish a routine before his games.

  • To prepare for his matches, he also reminds himself not to be scared of mistakes. This is another thing he learned from his stepfather.

Good Culture Within the Club

  • Matt believes that Mick McCarthy is one of the best leaders he has worked with. He led the football industry with a culture of respect.

  • Honest mistakes weren’t a problem for Mick McCarthy.

  • Because of the culture he created, it is no wonder that the teams he guided are overachievers.

  • Matt also believes Terry Connor is an amazing role model for promoting black culture.

Experiencing Racism in the Professional Arena

  • Matt never received this treatment from his fellow players. But he still experienced racism from spectators in a few games.

  • As he got older, the discriminatory words and gestures didn’t deter him from playing football.

  • Matt also mentions how the racism he experienced from professional matches was mostly left unaddressed.

Dealing With Racism

  • Now, Matt makes a massive effort to educate his children about racism because he believes that this should start at home.

  • Matt shares a story about dealing with racism where a white kid told him how white people are better than them.

  • The boy’s parents were present in a race where Matt won against the kid at running. But they never spoke a word about the kid’s racist acts when the kid attacked him afterwards.

  • Then, Matt met this kid again, now an adult, at a restaurant. As this person approached him and praised him for all his achievements, Matt made that person remember all of the racist stuff that person had done to him. However, Matt hopes that as an adult, the kid grew up to be a different person.

Eradicating Racism

  • For Matt, football clubs should stop lip service or merely putting black symbols on social media. There should be an outcry from the people for the racism to be addressed.

  • Education is the key. Education about racism should be compulsory in workshops and training.

  • Promoting more black people in different areas can resonate with younger kids.

  • Inviting schools to football clubs and creating workshops is critical in educating children.

Other Discussions

  • Matt believes that the lockdown has made people reflect and realize things that truly matter.

  • His challenge for the listeners is to do their part in making life more equal for everybody.

5 Powerful Quotes

“Kill them with kindness… If it's violence, then you’re sort of going to compound what they think or just escalate it.”

“When you do become a professional footballer, and you're in a position to make a difference, you want to give that time back.”

“Behind everybody who's had any sort of success — and success is relative — it’s because they've been good people along the way.”

“I'm very privileged, in my opinion, because I know that there's very, very few Wolves fans [who] have ever lived the dream playing out there, and they would all love to do it.

"Control what you can control. Don't be can go and be that hero. That's what you'll be because you eat really well, you go to bed at the right time, you control all this stuff. Don't worry about the weather, because you can't affect that."

About Matt

Matt William Murray is an English former professional football goalkeeper. He spent his entire career playing for the Wolverhampton Wanderers. By 1998, he progressed through the Wolves’ academy systems and signed a five-year professional contract when he was 17.

On the 31st of August, 2002, he was promoted to the Wolves’ first team. During the play-off finals in May 2003, he produced a man-of-the-match performance where he helped his team win promotion to the Premier League.

He received full recognition for his performance when he won the PFA Championship Player of the Month award in December 2006. Here, Matt was voted as the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year.

Matt’s career was unfortunately curtailed by numerous injuries. He officially retired at the age of 29. After retiring, Matt now works for Sky Sports News where he serves as an in-studio match reporter and summarises plays. Additionally, Matt also serves as a goalkeeping coach at the Nike Academy.

Enjoy this Podcast?

Racism is everywhere, even in the football industry. However, you can learn about it and educate others to create a safer community. If you enjoyed today's episode of The Community Safety Podcast, then hit subscribe, and share it with your friends!

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Jim Nixon

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