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Leeds United: Plaque call for 1960s Whites star

Albert, middle row, second right, in the Leeds United squad.

Albert, middle row, second right, in the Leeds United squad.

  • by Alison Bellamy
 

A football fan is calling for a blue plaque to be unveiled in memory of Albert Johanneson, one of the first black Leeds United players who excelled in the 1960s.

Paul Eubanks, a former teacher, is campaigning for a plaque to be put up and has contacted Leeds Civic Trust calling for the honour to remember him.

Mr Eubanks said: “Last year 2011 was the 50th anniversary of when Albert came to play for Leeds, originally from South Africa.

“He played an important part in the history of the club and was the first prominent black player during the 60s and the first black player to play at Wembley at a FA Cup final.

“I have approached Leeds Civic Trust about a plaque at a suitable location.”

He was recommended to the then Second Division club by a teacher in his home town of Johannesburg, the 21-year-old Johanneson impressed on a three-month trial with Leeds, and became one of Don Revie’s first signings in April 1961.

The swift left winger stayed for nine years and by the 1963-64 season had established himself as a powerful attacking force, scoring 13 league goals, which assisted in Leeds’ promotion. In 1965, Johanneson played in the FA Cup Final.

While Leeds lost the match to Liverpool, and Johanneson regrettably did not play his best, he made history by becoming the first black person to feature in the final of the world-renowned football competition.

He continued to be dogged by fitness problems and 
retired in 1971, falling on hard times and his health suffered as he became dependent on alcohol.

He died while living in Gledhow Towers, Leeds, aged only 55. Dr Kevin Grady, of Leeds Civic Trust, said blue plaques can take a long time to arrange and unveil: “We are enthusiastic about a blue plaque due to Albert’s contribution as a role model and the first black football player to play in a FA Cup final.

“We will work with Leeds United when their building works are complete to find a suitable location to commemorate him.”

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