Guide The Black Flash: The Albert Johanneson Story

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The boy giggled and did it again. Then the driver of the car reached out and whipped Johanneson across his neck with a cane. His friends ran when the man got out of his car. Johanneson could not.

Albert Johanneson: first black footballer to play in the FA Cup final

He was on the ground in pain. The man kicked him and drove off. Understandably scarred by incidents like this, Johanneson was of a nervous disposition. He was the retiring type, far more bashful than boisterous. As a child, football did not interest him. In the suffocating climate of a South Africa he was born in and was six years old when the country introduced apartheid , he liked the freedom that running afforded him.

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He was talented and would beat friends with ease. In his teenage years, a friend told him he could go even faster should he improve his technique. Johanneson took his advice and started practising with old tennis balls. He would spend hours each day controlling them, kicking them, flicking them and running along rocky roads with the ball at his feet. After a while he became so good the locals would come watch him and bet on whether or not he could perform particular tricks.

One day when he was practising, Johanneson was approached by a man from a local team. They were a player short and asked did he fancy getting involved. Johanneson had not played football in a long time and was reluctant at first — memories of being kicked around the pitch by a roughhouse full-back came rushing back — but he eventually agreed.

With no boots, he played bare-footed. He set up one goal, scored another and left the pitch in the arms of his team-mates. Athletics was forgotten about and football became his teenage passion. It was there he was scouted by a local school teacher named Barney Gaffney. It was Gaffney who informed Johanneson that people from Newcastle were coming to watch him and it was Gaffney who would organise a three-month trial for him with Leeds United in January There was a layer of cold, soft snow on the ground and plenty of tough, ugly tackles laid on him in training.

Nonetheless, once he settled, his skills and speed impressed all around him, including Revie.

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He was outstanding. He was a bloody excellent player and had so much pace and strength, he was a great athlete. That bravery was exhibited in his debut against Swansea three days after signing his contract. He first heard racist abuse coming from the opposite dressing room and then from the stands. The fans made monkey noises and jumped up and down.

Albert Johanneson - Wikipedia

He also set up several chances for Jack Charlton one of which was a perfectly weighted cross that led to a goal as Leeds drew After the match, Johanneson, a man forever uncertain of his place, was unsure if he could bath with his white team-mates. They stripped him, picked him up and threw him in. There was no escaping the abuse around the away grounds but the supporters at Elland Road worshipped Johanneson. So, apart from my father, Albert instantly became my hero. In that first season of , Johanneson played his part as Leeds avoided relegation but for much of the following term, he was replaced by John Hawksby.

He scored his first goal for the club in January in an FA Cup match but only featured once before a crucial mid-April match against Walsall.


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By that stage of the season, Leeds were, once more, contenders for the drop into Division Three and every point was vital. At Fellows Park, Johanneson scored as Leeds came away with an important draw. Two weeks later, Leeds were playing away to a mid-table Newcastle United.

Johanneson stole the show, scoring once and setting up another as Leeds won Leeds would survive relegation by a mere three points. In one match, according to Ian Guild in the Yorkshire Post, he was so good he was applauded by his team-mates on his way to the dressing room. However, it was during the following season that Johanneson played his best football for the club. This was a major event for the club and the city.

Albert Johanneson

Johanneson, like the rest of the Leeds players, spent the week signing autographs and being showered with free meals, drinks and compliments. See details and exclusions. See all 12 brand new listings. Qty: 1 2 3. Buy it now. Add to basket. All listings for this product Buy it now Buy it now.

Any condition Any condition. Last one Free postage. See all About this product Product Information Albert Johanneson became one of the first high profile black players in football when he joined Leeds United from the poverty of South African township life in Over the next nine years he became a favourite with the Leeds fans, amassing over appearances and 68 goals whilst enduring racism, endemic in that era, on and off the pitch.

The Black Flash: The Albert Johanneson Story

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