A tribute to Isiah Stein
Last week saw the passing of Isiah Stein, father of former England international Brian, ex-Barnet player Edwin and Chelsea striker Mark.
A heavily influential figure within the exiled South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SAN-ROC), anti-apartheid campaigner Isiah spent time in prison with Nelson Mandela during the 1960s.
Renowned for his views as a political activist, Isiah played a key role in the underground movement against the government, communicating with Mandela throughout the uprising.
“My father was always involved in the fight against apartheid. Eventually, the time came when we had to get out,” said Brian, who appeared for Luton Town 388 times.
Living in close proximity to the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, the venue in which England drew with Algeria during last summer’s World Cup, Isiah was held under 24-hour house arrest when he decided his family’s future lay away from South Africa in 1967.
“He was under house arrest when we were in South Africa — our house was being watched all the time,” said Mark, who set a Premier League record by scoring in seven consecutive matches whilst playing for Chelsea, a feat which stood until 2002.
He continued: “He was well known for his political views and it wasn’t feasible for him to stay in South Africa, he didn’t have any option but to leave.”
They fled their homeland, escaping the country on a flight out with an exit visa. With the choice of heading to the United States, England or Sweden, Isiah decided that Britain would be the best place for his family to lead their new life.
Brian commented: “It was very difficult for my father to get out of South Africa under the apartheid government.
“He carried on the struggle once we settled in the UK, as a committee member of SAN-ROC, which helped play a key role in successfully lobbying for the sports boycott.”
Kick It Out trustee Paul Elliott, who played alongside Brian at Luton and Mark at Chelsea, paid tribute to Isiah:
“He was a silent, humble man who didn’t want plaudits. The hard work he did was incredible. He was such an interesting guy to be around.
“I had known him since I was transferred to Luton in 1983, as I am very close friend of his son Brian. He always used to come and support us, and we’d always sit around after a game having dinner and a drink. There was a very strong black contingent at the club at the time.”
Talking of the Stein family, Paul said:
“They are such lovely people and they have an amazing story. When you hear about it you realise how much they triumphed through adversity.”
When reflecting on the success of the 2010 World Cup, in which white South Africans stood side-by-side with black South Africans, it is clear to see how far the country has come since apartheid.
The magnitude of the part played by people such as Isiah cannot be underestimated, and he was included in Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) ‘Offside’ exhibition, a display which documented the footballing links between South Africa and Britain.
Please see the following link to read more about it: http://www.furd.org/default.asp?intPageID=496
Isiah’s funeral is being held today.
For further information please contact Danny Lynch at Kick It Out on 020 7684 4884 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org