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Lucas Valeriu Radebe (born April 12 1969) is a former Leeds United and South African football player.

Early career

Radebe was born in the Diepkloof section of Sowetomarker, near Johannesburgmarker, as one of eleven children. When he was 15 years old he was sent to the "bantustan" of Bophuthatswana by his parents in order to keep him away from the violence that was affecting Soweto during the apartheid era.

In order to keep himself busy during his stay in Bophuthatswana, Radebe played football as a goalkeeper.

Club career

Radebe was spotted and signed by Kaizer Chiefs as a midfielder. In 1991 he was shot while walking down the street, though he was not critically wounded. The motive for the shooting never became clear, but Radebe himself believes that someone had been hired to shoot him in order to prevent him from moving to another club.

Partially motivated by the shooting incident, Lucas and another South African player, Philemon "Chippa" Masinga, moved to Leeds United in 1994; Radebe was sold by the Kaizer Chiefs for £250,000.

Radebe became a star player for Leeds and was nicknamed "The Chief" or "Rhoo" by its fans partly due to his previous club and partly his absolute rule in defence. In recognition of his leadership and ability, Radebe was appointed captain of the team for the 1998/99 season.

As captain of Leeds, Radebe was very successful: in the 1998/1999 season, Leeds finished fourth in the FA Premier League qualifying for the UEFA Cup. During the 1999/2000 season, Leeds finished third in the Premier League and qualified for the Champions League, reaching the semi-finals. However, in 2000, Radebe sustained knee and ankle injuries, which kept him out of the game for almost two years. During his time at Leeds Lucas turned down the chance to move to both and A.C. Milan feeling too strong an emotional bond to Leeds and their fans. Radebe scored three goals during his spell at Leeds, but none in the league. His first came against Oxford United in the 1997/98 FA Cup, and he then scored twice in Leeds' 1999/2000 UEFA Cup campaign against Partizan Belgrade and Spartak Moscow.


At the end of the 2005 season, Radebe retired from professional football in a star-studded testimonial match at Elland Roadmarker involving players from all around the world, and Leeds United players past and present. He has been offered a role on the Leeds United coaching staff as a result.

He is still a crowd favourite at Elland Roadmarker with the fans still singing his name even after his retirement showing how much he endeared himself to the fans during his playing career. In 2008, a local Leeds Brewery asked for suggestions on a new Beer name and the most popular suggestion was 'Radebeer', showing the Leeds fans' fond admiration of Lucas.

Lucas held a testimonial at Elland Roadmarker on May 2 2005 attended by a crowd of over 37,886. The Final Score was Leeds United XI 3-7 International XI. Numerous International Stars and Leeds United Legends turned out for the game showing how well regarded Lucas is throughout the world of football. The players included Gary McAllister, Vinnie Jones, Jay-Jay Okocha, Mario Melchiot, John Carew, Bruce Grobbelaar, Olivier Dacourt, Nigel Martyn, Gunnar Halle, Neil Sullivan, David Batty, Gary Speed, Gordon Strachan, Gary Kelly, Clyde Wijnhard, Phil Masinga, David Wetherall, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Tony Yeboah, Paul Robinson, Chris Kamara, Matthew Kilgallon and Eirik Bakke. Lucas also held a retirement match in Durbanmarker, South Africa between a South African Invitation XI and Lucas Radebe All Stars at Kings Park Soccer Stadiummarker The match finished South African Invitation XI 3-2 Lucas Radebe All Stars . The proceeds from both of these matches were combined with other money raised and donated to charity as part of Lucas's big donation to charity in his final year as a player.

On 28 August 2006, Lucas announced that he was going back to Leedsmarker after failing to secure a job with the World Cup hosts to be involved in the set-up of Bafana Bafana even though he was promised. He said he was tired of waiting for unreliable people who had allegedly promised him a role in the national team set up as the South African Football Association prepare to host the next World Cup in 2010.

It is also known that Lucas is friendly with former South African President Nelson Mandela. On a visit to Leeds, Mandela told dignitaries "This is my hero".

On 8 October 2009, The English Football Association announced Radebe as an ambassador to help boost the 2018 World Cup bid.

International career

Radebe was first included in the South African national team in 1992 and he made his international debut on 7 July 1992 against Cameroonmarker.

In 1996, he was a member of the South African team that won the African Nations Cup. Radebe was also the captain of the South African national football team (nicknamed Bafana Bafana) in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and also in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

He earned 70 caps for South Africa and scored 2 goals during his international career with his last match being against Englandmarker on 22 May 2003.

International Goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 17 December 1997 Riyadhmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker 1-0 3-4 FIFA Confederations Cup
2 12 June 2002 Daejeonmarker, South Koreamarker 2-2 2-3 FIFA World Cup


Radebe has been an ambassador of FIFAmarker for SOS Children's Villages; he also received the FIFA Fair Play Award in December 2000 for his contribution in ridding soccer of racism as well as for his work with children in South Africa.

He was voted 54th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004.

The current popular band the Kaiser Chiefs are said to have taken their name from Lucas' old club as he had such an influence on them as young men, with all the members being Leeds fans.

He is friends with golf great Gary Player and has played frequently in his Gary Player Invitational charity golf tournament to help raise funds for various children's causes.

His wife Feziwe died of cancer in October 2008.

In December 2008, Radebe was treated for a heart complaint after collapsing while at the gym.

Further reading

  • Graeme Friedman "Madiba's Boys The Stories of Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish" Comerford & Miller, United Kingdom ISBN 1 919 888 08 Features a foreword by Nelson Mandela


  1. "Lucas Radebe, The Chief's Story" DVD
  2. (08/04/2008). "Cheers Lucas!"
  3. Soccer A.M. World (2005). "The Lucas Radebe Testimonial" (accessed 31st Aug 2006)
  4. (12/06/2005). "Radebe honoured in Durban" (accessed 31st Aug 2006)
  5. BBC (28/08/2005). "Radebe quits South Africa" (accessed 26st Sept 2006)
  6. (28/04/2005). "Radebe bids farewell"

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