Kick It Out has commissioned a play about the life and legacy of Laurie Cunningham as football celebrates the 40th anniversary of his historic debut for Real Madrid against Valencia.

On September 9th 1979, Laurie Cunningham became the first British player in modern history to play for Los Blancos at the Bernabéu, and the fact that he was one of only a handful of black professional footballers in Europe at the time made his achievement all the more remarkable.

In celebration of this significant anniversary and of the extraordinary impact that Laurie Cunningham had in inspiring a whole generation of young black British footballers, Getting The Third Degree will begin a nationwide tour of the UK beginning in October 2019 to coincide with Black History Month.

Written by award winning playwright, Dougie Blaxland, this compelling new drama tells the powerful and deeply moving dramatisation of story of how Laurie Cunningham came to prominence with West Bromwich Albion in the late 1970’s before moving on to Real Madrid.

The first of the black footballing trio famously dubbed The Three Degrees - Laurie Cunningham - with his swaggering style and dazzling skills - forced favourable comparisons with the legendary Pele.

The first name on the team sheet at West Bromwich Albion, he was the spark that lit the club’s pathway to success throughout the 1978/79 season. It was his performance against Valencia in the UEFA Cup, however, which captured the attention of Real Madrid.

Laurie quickly became the star attraction of a phenomenal Real Madrid side, and such was his genius, he once received a standing ovation from Barcelona supporters at the Nou Camp for his imperious display in Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory - a unique achievement.

In dramatising Laurie Cunningham’s rise to stardom Getting The Third Degree also explores how he and his fellow black players at West Bromwich Albion - Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis - triumphed over the racial abuse and physical threats often orchestrated by The National Front through a potent combination of footballing brilliance, charismatic style and compelling dignity.

Incorporating 1970’s funk, soul, blues, contemporary commentary and social and political speeches Getting The Third Degree is a powerful piece of theatre that vividly recreates a tense and troubled period in the history of football and the wider society.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Laurie Cunningham's niece, Rhodene Cunningham said:- 'We are delighted that Kick it Out has commissioned this new stage play about Laurie' s life. He was a very special man loved by us all and we hope that his pioneering story will be an inspiration to everyone who comes to see the production'.

With the ongoing problem of racial abuse at football matches and in wider society in the UK, playwright Dougie Blaxland believes that “although Getting the Third Degree dramatises events that took place over 40 years,  the issues that the play raises are every bit as relevant today as they were then.”

Roisin Wood, Kick it Out’s Chief Executive Officer, believes the play is an important project that will allow the organisation to spread its message of equality in a different way.

“In an organisation committed to changing deeply embedded attitudes you cannot simply repeat the same message in the same way year after year,” she said. “The commissioning of this play is an attempt to engage new audiences in our ongoing mission to combat racism in football.

 “The more fans and followers of football we can encourage to see this exciting production the greater its impact will be.”

The play will be co-directed by Roughhouse Theatre’s joint Artistic Directors Shane Morgan and Moira Hunt. Both Morgan and Hunt have worked with Blaxland on three other productions with sporting themes including: Hands Up for Jonny Wilkinson’s Right Boot - commissioned by the Rugby Football Union for the 2015 World Cup - When The Eye Has Gone - written for the Professional Cricketers’ Association as part of its Mind Matters campaign -  and The Long Walk Back, a story about cricketer Chris Lewis, which toured the UK to critical acclaim earlier this year.

If you'd like to purchase tickets for Getting The Third Degree, the full schedule and contact information to purchase tickets is below.