Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Thursday that a memorial service for Steve “Kalamazoo” Mokone will be held at FNB Stadium on April 11, and his remains eventually interred there.
Mokone who had lived in the US since the 1960s, died in Baltimore, Maryland, last Friday.
Mokone was signed from Durban Bush Bucks by Coventry City in 1955. He played for Heracles Almelo in Holland, Marseille in France, Torino in Italy and Sunshine George Cross in Melbourne.
He was compared to world greats such as Eusebio, Alfredo di Stefano and Stanley Matthews. He holds the title for the first black South African to play in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.
Safa president Danny Jordaan said reporting on Mokone’s success was stifled in apartheid SA. “People in Europe know more about him — they talk more, wrote more, there is a film about him — than in this country.”
Mokone attracted much attention in his native South Africa, making his debut for a South Africa Black XI at the age of just 16. The Durban Bush Bucks player was close to signing for English side Newcastle United but for the intervention of his father, who wished him to continue his studies. Mokone began his professional career in 1955 with English side Coventry City, where he made four league appearances, scoring one goal in the process. He later played in the Netherlands with Heracles Almelo, for whom he scored twice at his debut and won the 1958 Tweede Divisie title to become a club legend. He was the first foreign professional player in Dutch football. A stand in Heracles’ Polman Stadion is named after him.
He later joined Cardiff City, making a goal scoring debut on the opening day of the 1959–60 season on 22 August 1959 during a 3–2 victory over Liverpool. He made just two more league appearances for the side, before being signed in 1959 by Spanish side FC Barcelona. However, because Barcelona had filled their quota of foreign players, he was loaned to French side Marseille. Mokone later played in Italy for Torino and in Spain for Valencia CF, before finishing his career in Australia with Sunshine George Cross and in Canada.
In 1996 he founded the Kalamazoo South African Foundation. Dutch sports journalist Tom Egbers wrote a novel based on Mokone, which was made into a movie in 2000; both novel and movie are called The Black Meteor (De Zwarte Meteoor).
Mokone died in Washington on 20 March 2015.