Wharton's career highlights as a goalkeeper included reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup with Preston North End. He also played for the now-defunct Stalybridge Rovers and Ashton North End. His footballing career started at Darlington FC, with spells at clubs including Preston North End, Sheffield United, Rotherham Town and Stockport County.
A blue plaque was unveiled in Tameside, Greater Manchester last week in his honour. The plaque, at Curzon Ashton FC's ground, recognises Arthur's impact on the sport in the area.
Born in the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana, in 1865, he moved to the north-east of England in 1884, aged 19.
In 1886 he became the Amateur Athletics Association national 100 yards champion and a year later he set a record time for cycling between Preston and Blackburn.
He also ran a tobacconist's shop in Old Street in Ashton-under-Lyne. The plaque recognises Arthur Wharton's impact on the Tameside area
He retired from football in 1902 and died in 1930.
Councillor Dawson Lane, from Tameside Council, said: "Black players have been at the heart of football for many years, from people like Pele and Eusebio to current stars such as Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli.
"It's amazing to think it all started with Arthur Wharton, who played in Tameside.
"Arthur was a truly historic figure within the game and I'm delighted that the council is commemorating his role with a blue plaque."
In 2003, Arthur was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum which was then fittingly in Preston.
In June, a statuette of Arthur, presented to the president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, went on display at the organisation's Zurich headquarters.