THE FIRST PIONEER OF AFRICAN PLAYERS IN EUROPE
Today, we know many black footballers from Africa who have become stars in Europe. Call it Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Michael Essien, Nwankwo Kanu, and Emmanuel Adebayor. Previously, there were the names George Weah, Abedi Pele, Daniel Amokachi, and Anthony Yeboah who were the superstars first.
However, do you know who the first superstar from the black continent was? He is Steve Mokone, a player from South Africa from the 1950s to 1960s. His nickname is The Black Meteor. Mokone was an early milestone for black African footballers in European professional football when he joined Coventry City in 1955-56.
He also carried the status of the first black African player when he tested the Dutch League in 1958-59 with Heracles Almelo. This is where he achieved superstar status. Unmitigated, he was aligned with Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, the two best European players at the time. He was often compared to Pele.
One proof of the greatness of a player whose talent has attracted attention since he was 16 years old was when he scored a hat-trick against Dynamo Kiev in a friendly match with his club, Torino. He was the first person who could do it against Kiev, the best club in the Soviet Union at that time.
An Italian columnist, Giuseppe Branco did not hesitate to write that if Pele is a Rolls-Royce , Stanley Matthews is a Mercedes-Benz , and Di Stefano is a Cadillac , Mokone is the Maserati of football. The title was given when the Doornfontein-born player defended Torino in 1961.
Another acknowledgment of his work can be seen from the perpetuation of his name into the name of a street in Amsterdam and the name of one of the stands at the Polman Stadium, the headquarters of Heracles. The government of South Africa itself in 2003 awarded The Order of Ikhamanga Gold . to a player who in the 1950s already received a fee of 10 thousand pounds.
Remarkably, Mokone was also successful in the educational path. When he ended his glorious career in 1964, he attended Rutgers University, USA, studying psychology. Seven years later, he was appointed assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester after winning his doctorate.