Netherlands first black pro footballer dead at 82

Steve Mokone (Picture: . (Steve Mokone (Picture: )

The first black professional football player in the Netherlands, Steve Mokone, has died at the age of 82, his former club Heracles revealed on Friday. Known as the "Black Meteor," Mokone was signed in1957 by the Almelo-based team after playing for English team, Coventry City.

He played on the Heracles team that won the second division championship a year later. He was a true asset and a cult hero for Heracles and during his time in the team, Heracles was promoted to the First Division (Eerste Divisie), the team said.

"I am black, but I tried to be an Almeloër, and speak with the people on the street in Dutch. I was one of them, while other players felt they were more important," Mokone was quoted as saying.

After spending several years with the Dutch team, Mokone played for European clubs FC Barcelona, Torino and Valencia FC before ending his career in 1964 with Sunshine George Cross in Melbourne, Australia.

Mokone moved to the United States when his football career ended, but found himself in legal trouble in 1977. He was convicted and imprisoned for attacking his wife at the time, Joyce Maaga-Mokone, by throwing lye in her face. Later, he was convicted for orchestrating a 1977 attack against Maaga-Mokone's lawyer, Ann Rogers, who had sulfuric acid thrown in her face by an assailant.

Mokone spent a combined twelve years behind bars in New Jersey and New York, and was released from custody in 1990.

Journalist Tom Egbers, also from Almelo, wrote a book about Mokone called De Zwarte Meteoor. The book was adapted into a film in 2000.