Leslie was selected to play for England in 1925, according to the National Football Museum, but the call was later canceled.
“There was a bit of unrest in the newspapers. People in town [Plymouth] they were very upset. No one ever officially told me, but that must have been the reason; my mom was English, but my dad was black as “Aces of Spades”.
“There was no other reason to take away my hat.”
Had he played internationally, Leslie, who had Jamaican parenting, would have been the first English black footballer.
Instead, Viv Anderson won the title in 1978 – more than half a century after Leslie’s turn to make his debut.
Leslie passed away in 1988 scoring 137 goals in 401 appearances for Argyle, who had just earned promotion to the third tier of English football between 1924 and 1931.
The campaign to build the statue has so far raised more than £ 25,000 ($ 31,000) and is backed by the English Football Association and Luke Pollard, a Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.
“Jack Leslie was supposed to be the first black player to appear in an England shirt but was dropped once because of the color of his skin,” Pollard wrote on Twitter.
“I support the statue campaign in #plymouth to remember one of the greatest players @ Only1Argyle.”
The campaign hopes to place the statue in front of Home Park, home of Plymouth Argyle Stadium. If the fundraising goal is exceeded, an educational element will be added to the campaign.
“Stories like this are incredibly sad,” FA President Greg Clarke said in a statement.
“Discrimination in the game, in any form or from any time period, is unacceptable. We must always remember pioneers like Jack Leslie and be thankful that football is in a very different place today.
“We are extremely pleased to support this campaign which will hopefully ensure that Jack’s career is appropriately recognized.
“In the last few years we have made huge strides to ensure that English football is more diverse and inclusive. We see through the representation of players and staff in our national development and older teams that English football has made great progress, but we know there is more to do through the game , either on and off the field.
“We remain committed to removing discrimination from football and ensuring that it better reflects the communities that watch, support and love the game.”
Numerous Black footballers have already celebrated the statues in the UK, including former West Brom players Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis.
There is also a special statue of Cunningham, who died in a car accident in 1989, at the age of 33, near the home ground of Leyton Orient in London. Cunningham made his professional debut for the Orient.