Three brothers from Wolves Academy got the opportunity to meet their heroes, when they were picked to teach first-team stars Adama Traore and Conor Coady about inspirational First World War hero Walter Tull.
13-year-old twins Usman and Mehran Khan, and their 12-year-old brother Suleman spent an afternoon with the Premier League players, telling them about their own journey to the UK and eventually Wolverhampton, but also explain the significance of Tull, who the whole Academy have been learning about ahead of Armistice Day.
Orphaned at the age of eight, Tull was one of the country’s first black professional footballers, signing for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town, before enlisting with the Middlesex Regiment during World War One – part of a 'Footballers' Battalion' that drew professional players from a range of clubs.
Despite the Manual of Military Law stating only men of ‘pure European descent’ could be officers in the army, Walter’s leadership qualities were recognised and in 1917 he became the first infantry officer of black heritage in the British Army.
On 25th March 1918, Tull was shot and fatally wounded, and his body was never recovered.
As part of the #Tull100 campaign, a government and Lottery-funded initiative that aims to use Tull's story to boost community cohesion and inclusivity, Wolves future stars have been learning about Tull’s life and his ‘no barriers’ message.
The Khan brothers moved with their family to the UK from Pakistan as youngsters and have overcome discrimination, rejection from another Academy on a technicality, and upheaval as they moved from London to Birmingham to pursue their dream of becoming professional footballers.
Since signing for Wolves in February they have been adapting to life in the Black Country and settled into their teams well and were chosen to teach Traore and Coady about the life and death of Walter Tull, and his relevance to society today.
Usman Khan said: “Walter’s story is one that is inspiring for us as we, like him, have overcome adversity, barriers and discrimination to get to where we are today.
“Our whole family unit have moved to the UK, and then we moved to Birmingham so that we could follow our dream of becoming professional footballers at Wolves.
“Everyone at Wolves have been so supportive since we moved here, and it was an incredible opportunity to teach Adama and Conor the significance of Walter’s story – they both hadn’t heard of him before but really listened to us when we explained his life and what he had achieved against adversity.”
Traore added: “It was fascinating learning the story of Walter Tull and really good to meet Usman, Mehran and Suleman who have already overcome so much in their lives and illustrated how hard work and determination can help you achieve your dreams.”