Friday’s Forgotten Footballer — Lucas Radebe

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Lucas Radebe
Full Name: Lucas Valeriu Radebe
Position: Centre Back
Nationality: South African (70 caps, 2 goals)
Clubs: Kazier Chiefs FC, Leeds United.

Lucas Radebe is a Leeds United legend. During his 11 year stay at Elland Road he firmly established himself as a first team regular. He captained the side for the first time under George Graham and was ever-present throughout the David O’Leary’s years and the eventual demise of the club.

He is idolised by his South African compatriots. Currently he is playing an influential role in the promotion of World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

‘The Chief’, as he was affectionately nicknamed by the Leeds fans, started his footballing career with Johannesburg club, Kazier Chiefs FC. He has admitted to having a tough upbringing which involved partaking in car thefts and being shot while walking on the street.

He spent four years at the Chiefs before moving to Yorkshire club Leeds for £250,000. Radebe soon established himself as the rock at the heart of the defence and earned the respect of players and managers alike.

His fine form subsequently led to him being linked with some of Europe’s top clubs; with Radebe famously professing he spurned the advances of Manchester United, opting to remain at his spiritual home at Elland Road.

At the beginning of the 1998-99 season, the South African was named as captain of the club. It was the beginning of an exciting three-year period where Leeds finished fourth and third in successive years, sparking runs in the UEFA Cup and Champions League.

Indeed Leeds enjoyed a fantastic run in the Champions League reaching the semi-finals. They were eventually knocked out by Valencia. Unfortunately Radebe sustained serious knee and ankle injuries which sidelined him for almost two years.

It was the beginning of the end for both Leeds United and Lucas Radebe.

Leeds United slipped down the tiers in English football and Radebe eventually retired in 2005. He held two testimonials, with the proceedings of both being donated to a charity of his choice.

He never scored a goal in the Premier League but did score twice in the UEFA Cup run during the 1999-00 season and once in the FA Cup in 1997.

He made 70 appearances for his country and scored twice, one came against England in a friendly. He was a member of the South Africa team that won the African Cup of Nations in 1995 and he represented his country at two World Cups in 1998 and 2000.

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