The Leeds United family came together this evening to remember Albert Johanneson, the trailblazing star whose speed and skills lit up Elland Road in the 1960s.
Albert was a key part of Don Revie’s footballing revolution at Leeds – but he also has a proud place in the country’s wider sporting story, having been the first black player to appear in an FA Cup final.
And tonight the South African’s life and achievements were saluted as a Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque was unveiled in his honour at Elland Road before United’s game against Derby County.
Albert’s granddaughter, Samantha, was in attendance for the ceremony, along with Leeds-born former United striker Brian Deane.
Also present were representatives of the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust, Leeds City Council and anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out.
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust chair Steve White said: “We’re very proud to have played a part in the blue civic plaque for Albert and to add this piece of heritage to Elland Road.
“We hope and trust that members and Leeds fans alike will be delighted when they see this wonderful accolade.”
Tributes also came from council leader Coun Judith Blake, who said: “There is no doubt that Albert’s accomplishments played an important role in helping to pave the way for future generations of black footballers from across the globe to come to play in England as he once did from South Africa, and this alone is a truly wonderful legacy.
“A blue plaque at Elland Road in recognition of Albert and all that he achieved is the least that he deserves.”
This evening’s ceremony was held in the reception area of Elland Road’s West Stand, with the plaque due to be installed next week in what will be its permanent home outside the ground’s East Stand.
United chief executive Angus Kinnear hailed the unveiling as a “fantastic occasion” for the club at the start of its centenary year.
The plaque is the 173rd organised by Leeds Civic Trust since 1987 to celebrate important people, events and buildings from the city’s past.
Albert signed for United in 1961, having been recommended to the club by a South African teacher who was working in Yorkshire.
He scored 67 goals in 200 appearances for Leeds, helping them win promotion to the old First Division in 1964.
Albert, who struggled with ill health after his retirement, died in 1995 at the age of just 55.