NEW changing rooms at an inner-city Leeds soccer club have been named after a Leeds United footballing hero.
The Albert Johanneson changing rooms have been opened at the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre, at the Prince Philip Centre on Scott Hall Road.
Albert was the first black footballer to achieve true prominence in the English professional game. He joined Leeds United in 1961 as one of Don Revie’s first signings as a left winger and his talent for scoring goals soon made him a fans’ favourite.
He came from South Africa was an early contributor to the revival at Elland Road inspired by Don Revie. He stayed at the club for nine years, peaking during the 1964-65 season and retired from football in 1971.
Albert suffered racism on the pitch but did not let it stop him from some trailblazing performances.
Having been recommended to the then Second Division club by a teacher in his home town of Johannesburg, the 21-year-old Johanneson impressed bosses during a three-months trial with Leeds.
Lutel James, strategic leader at the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre, which offers sporting facilities to youngsters from the Chapeltown and Scott Hall areas, said: “Albert was a genuine footballing hero of his time.
“Our young players know about his story and his talent.
“There has been talk for a long time about a blue plaque being installed in Albert’s honour and we want to have it here.”
The facility was opened by Councillor Jane Dowson and a crowd of around 100 people attended.
Johanneson fan Paul Eubanks, from Leeds, gave a presentation about Albert’s life story and achievements. Paul said: “He was truly one of the first black players who entered professional football and made a name for himself.”
Albert Johanneson factfile
He was the first prominent black professional footballer.
He was a skilful and swift left winger, was recommended to Leeds United by a South African schoolteacher and joined the club in April 1961.
By the 1963–64 season had established himself as a powerful attacking force providing 13 league goals, which assisted in Leeds’ promotion from the Second Division.
In 1963, Johanneson married Jamaican-born pharmacist, Norma Comrie. Together they had two children: Yvonne, born in 1963, and Alicia, born in 1966.
He was a fans’ favourite in 1960’s Leeds.
He died in Leeds in 1995.