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Albert in action for Leeds United
Albert Johanneson in action for United

Albert Johanneson's story

Albert Johanneson was a footballer from South Africa who signed for Leeds United in 1961, and the BBC's Inside Out programme looks at his legacy.


In the next nine years, up to 1970, he made 200 appearances for United scoring 68 goals. Albert was a key player in the team put together by another Leeds legend, Don Revie.

Albert was the first black footballer to play in the FA Cup final when he played for Leeds against Liverpool in 1965, although Leeds lost the match, the final was perhaps Albert's finest sporting moment.

Albert came from the poverty of township life in South Africa to star on the football fields of England. However, by the late 1960s, Albert’s marriage was in trouble, and his football career was in decline. He was starting to drink too much.

By the 1970s, his wife and children were gone having left him alone in Leeds. Sadly, when he died in 1995, at the age of 53, he'd become a penniless alcoholic.

Stephanie is here to play football
Stephanie is here to play football

Now Johanneson's family have returned to the UK to rediscover this part of their family history. Stephanie, Albert's granddaughter, is keeping the family tradition alive because she’s flown in from America to be in a football tournament.

Stephanie's mum, Yvonne, is in the UK as well although she now lives in the States. But Yvonne is proud of everything her father achieved and wants to know more about the struggles he faced.

When Yvonne was born, Albert was at the peak of his career with Leeds United. Albert had achieved so much but what went wrong?

That's the mystery his family want to solve during a journey back to Yorkshire. Now you can watch former sportsman Johnny Nelson's film of that journey.

video Inside Out: Albert Johanneson's story >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

The film was first shown on Inside Out, BBC ONE on Monday 10 October 2005.

last updated: 12/10/05
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