My teacher said I’d more likely be dead by 25 than a footballer. What if I had listened? | Troy Deeney

Imagine how children would flourish if they learned about Black achievements instead of oppressionTroy Deeney is captain of Birmingham FC and an anti-racism campaignerThere weren’t many expectations of me when I was at school. Nobody I knew went to university so that wasn’t something I even thought about. Where I grew up, the choices seemed to be: deal drugs, work for the nearby car plant or somehow use sport as a way out – although I was also told by one teacher I was more likely to be dead by 25 than be a professional footballer. When the expectations are that low, and you’re told for so many years “you can’t”, you start to believe it. And then when I was 15 I was excluded from school, leaving without any GCSEs, just another of the disproportionately high number of mixed race and Black Caribbean boys to be removed from school.I did become a professional footballer, joining a non-league side when I was working as a bricklayer and eventually joining Watford in 2010, and I’ve seen the power of using my platform and making a stand when my colleagues and I took the knee in the wake of the murder of George Floyd to support Black Lives Matter. Football was my way out, but I also wonder what I could have done if I’d been encouraged to engage at school and seen myself reflected in what I was learning – and how life might have been different for all the other kids who didn’t have football.Troy Deeney is captain of Birmingham FC and an anti-racism campaigner. Troy Deeney: Where’s My History? is at 10pm on 23 May on Channel 4Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 300 words to be considered for publication, email it to us at guardian.letters@theguardian.com