Leeds United's top 30 players of all time - Number 23

Elland Road Revie Stand

At 23 in the countdown is a winger who secured his place in history just by playing in the 1965 FA Cup final.

Judging by the assessments of his performance in the 1965 FA Cup final, as well as the majority of his displays during Leeds' early days in the First Division, Albert Johanneson did not relish the big occasion in the slightest. However, his talent and more crucially, his importance in breaking down barriers in English football makes him one of the most influential players in the club's history. 

After growing up among the horrors of apartheid, the South African became Don Revie's first ever signing as Leeds boss in April 1961 when the Yorkshire club were in the Second Division.

While English football crowds were often no better than what he had left behind in his home country, he would go on to give defenders nightmares with his pace and trickery, and was instrumental in getting United promoted in 1964, finishing as the team's joint top goalscorer with 15 strikes. 

It was during the next season that Johannesson would cement his name in the pantheon of English football history as he became the first black player to play in the FA Cup final. 

His disappointing performance against Liverpool perhaps sums up his time at Elland Road quite well. He earned the right to play in one of the most important games on the calendar, but seemingly struggled to accept that he belonged on the biggest stage. 

After several years on the fringes of the side, he left Leeds in 1970 and after his playing days were over, he became something of a recluse in the city and died at just 55. 

Albert Johanneson's story is ultimately a sad one, but there is no doubt that his journey from the streets of South Africa to the Wembley turf is incredibly important and blazed the trail for several black players in later years.

And while some Leeds fans may only remember his latter years at Elland Road, some supporters will never forget the way that he danced down the line with the ball at his feet during the club's days in the Second Division, and the role he played in getting the team on the path that led to their most successful period. 

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