Feature by Kevin Markey
Updated Friday, 11th August 2006
One of the first high-profile black players.Albert Johanneson (born Johannesburg, South Africa, March 13, 1940; died Leeds, September 1995) was one of the first high-profile black players, of any nationality, to play top-flight football in England.
Johanneson, a skilful and swift left winger, joined Leeds United in 1961 and stayed there for nine years.
He was in the side which won promotion from the Second Division in 1964 and a year later, became the first black player to feature in an FA Cup final.
Leeds lost that game at Wembley to Liverpool and Johanneson played disappointingly, a trait to his game which was all too common, as like many players reliant on flair he had a tendency to vanish from matches for long periods.
The emergence of Eddie Gray over the next two seasons left Johanneson in a bit-part role, and he made only ten starts in the League over three seasons until 1970, when manager Don Revie released him.
He joined York City and played there for two years before retiring. Life after football did not treat him well, although Leeds United and his old team-mates stayed in touch and tried to help him as he sunk into alcoholism, which took his finances and ended his marriage.
Johanneson got treatment and assistance several times for his illness but it eventually overpowered him and he died in 1995 as a recluse in squalid conditions. Most of his team-mates attended his funeral.