mokone rewarded

ONE of South Africa's soccer greats of all time, Steve "Kalamazoo" Mokone, has been invited by Safa to be one of their special guests during the historic 2010 World Cup.

ONE of South Africa's soccer greats of all time, Steve "Kalamazoo" Mokone, has been invited by Safa to be one of their special guests during the historic 2010 World Cup.

Safa president Kirsten Nematandani has sent a letter inviting Mokone to the tournament, which will also be graced by US President Barack Obama. In the letter, Nematandani said: "Your international football profile has helped our country to be recognised as a true football-playing nation.

"The football family's recognition of your legendary status in last year's Safa awards was warmly received by the people of South Africa. Your presence at this historical moment and our football in particular will be highly appreciated. I'm looking forward to welcoming you in our beautiful country as we celebrate humanity."

This will be one of three major honours Mokone has received in the country of his birth. Mokone described the invitation as a great honour.

"I'm planning to attend - I hope everything will go well for me to be part of the World Cup," Mokone said.

In 2003 former president Thabo Mbeki honoured Mokone with the Order of Ikhamanga - the country's highest honour for achievement in the creative sphere, performing arts and sport. Last year, Safa also honoured him with the president's special award for his contribution to the development and promotion of local soccer.

He made history when he become the first black South African to play professional football in Europe, after representing his country at the tender age of 16. Other clubs that the US-based legend played for include England's Coventry, Holland's Heracles, Italy's Torino, France's Marseilles and Spain's Barca. Mokone ended his illustrious football career with a stint in Australia before proceeding to Canada in 1964.

In the same year, he enrolled at Rutgers University in the US and completed his doctorate in psychology seven years later.

Mokone, who has a street named after him in Amsterdam, was appointed professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. He is the subject of a book, Twaalf Gestolen Jaren (12 Stolen Years), and a film, De Zwarte Meteoor (The Black Meteor).

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