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March 20, 2015
Announcing the Passing of Steve "Kalamazoo" Mokone, 1932 to 2015
FAIRFAX, Virginia, USA - The Mokone
family is deeply saddened to announce
that Steve "Kalamazoo" Mokone, who
was widely touted as South Africas first
black soccer to play professional football
in Europe, passed away on Thursday. He
was 83.
"He died peacefully at 22h15 on
Thursday March 19th in a Washington DC
area hospital in the United States of
America (USA)," said his wife Louise

His dribbling skills took him to England in 1955 when he joined Coventry City. He later played for
teams in Holland, Spain, France, Italy, Australia and Canada.

During his playing days, he was rated as one of the best soccer players in Europe, and
compared to the all-time greats of the game. In 1959, he was voted Europe's best soccer player.

This is how Italian soccer writer, Beppe Branco, once described Kalamazoo: "If Pele of Brazil is the
Rolls-Royce of soccer players, Stanley Matthews of England the Mercedes-Benz and Alfredo di
Stefano of Argentina and Spain the Cadillac of soccer players, then Kala of South Africa, lithe
and lean, is surely the Maserati."

In a letter to Kalamazoo on his 80th birthday, now former South African Deputy President,
Kgalema Motlanthe wrote: Not only were you the first South African footballer to play in Europe,
but also, you were the first African to do so, blazing a trail by rising above the near-impossible

I speak with no sense of hyperbole when I say that you are simply the best player of the century
not only here in South Africa, but at the level of our continent, Africa. Such were your dazzling
footballing abilities that you were put at the level of the greatest footballer of all time, Pele
himself, wrote Motlanthe.

Mokones playing years in Europe were spell-binding. Like at Coventry City, when he moved to
the Netherlands to play for Heracles in 1958 he was their star player, helping them to win the
Dutch League.

He signed for Spanish giants Barcelona in 1959, but because they had their quota of foreigners,
was loaned to French side Marseilles. He then moved to Torino in Italy where he was also one of
their best players.
On a tour of Russia, he became the first foreigner to score a hat-trick in a game against the
biggest team in the land, Kiev.

He also played for clubs in Australia and Canada in 1964 before moving to the United States in
1964 where he continued his studies earning a Doctorate in Psychology and International

Mokone has been a recipient of many awards and honors including the distinguished Order of
Ikhamanga in Gold from South Africa's then President Thabo Mbeki in 2003. In addition, he was
inducted into the Dutch Football Hall of Fame in 2010, South African Sports Hall of Fame in 2006,

He was chief executive officer of the Kalamazoo South African Foundation, which he founded in
1996. He served on the board of directors of the Commonwealth Sports Awards.

Mokone, who has a street in Almelo, Netherlands named after him - and a book written and film
- - De Zwarte Meteoor (The Black Meteor) - - made about him - was born in Doornfontein,
Johannesburg, in 1932. His family moved to Sophiatown when he was six before settling in
Kilnerton, north of Pretoria.

Mokone will be dearly missed by his children, grandchildren, relatives and friends in the USA,
South Africa, and Holland.
Robala ka kgotso Mokone! (Rest in Peace, Mokone!)


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