Lucas Valeriu Ntuba Radebe is a South African former footballer who played primarily as a centre-back.
He is a football icon in South Africa and overseas. The late Nelson Mandela who I regards as my hero once called Lucas Radebe “my hero.”
He was born in 1969 in Soweto. He attended high school near Zeerust where he joined ICL Birds in the now defunct Bophuthatswana Soccer League. He played for ICL Birds from 1987 to 1988.
He was recruited to Kaizer Chiefs in 1989. He started of his Kaizer Chiefs career as a goalkeeper and then switched positions to play as a central midfielder. He would then switch positions again to play as a defender.
Between 1989 and 1994 he made about 113 appearances for the senior Kaizer Chiefs team and scored 5 goals.
In 1991 he was shot while on his way to the shops. He reached the hospital and needed emergency surgery. Miraculously the bullet which entered his back and exited his thigh missed his organs. According to Wiki “it is suspected that someone was hired to shot him rather than allow him to switch clubs.” Conspiracy theories.
In 1994 Philemon Masinga and Lucas Radebe moved to Leeds United for a transfer fee of 250,000 pounds.
Radebe didn’t find his footing initially at leeds as he suffered from injuries which would prevent him from regular first team appearances. When he started to find his footing he started to shine as a Leeds player so much so that he was named captain of the team for the 1998-99 seasons. During that season Leads finished fourth in the FA Premier League and qualified for the UEFA Cup.
In the 1999-2000 seasons Leeds finished third in the FA Premier League and reached the semi-finals in the Champions League. There are reports that during that time he received interest from Manchester United, A.C. Milan and Roma which he turned down.
In 2000 he was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award and in the very year he sustained serious knee and ankle injuries which kept him side lined for almost two years. Once he healed from his injuries he found it difficult to regain his place in the team.
He played for Leeds United from 1994 to 2005 and made about 201 appearances. At the end of the 2005 season he retired from professional football.
He played for South Africa from 1992 to 2003 making 70 appearances and scoring two goals for his country.
He made his international debut on 7 July 1992 against Cameroon.
In 1996 he was a member of the South African team that won the African Nations Cup.
What Happened to Lucas Radebe?
When he retired at the end of the 2005 season Leeds United held a testimonial for Radebe at Elland Road on 2 May 2005 attended by a crowd of over 37,886. He also held a retirement match in Durban and the proceeds where donated to charity.
In 2006 he announced that he was going back to Leeds after failing to secure a job to be involved in the team set-up of Bafana Bafana at the 2010 World Cup.
In 2008 a Leeds micro-brewery went to the Elland Road club to ask supporters to name their latest beer. The overwhelming favourite was Radebeer. Fans could now drink in honour of the football legend Lucas Radebe as they played for promotion.
In 2009 the English Football Association announced Radebe as an ambassador to help boost the 2018 World Cup bid.
He collapsed while on a treadmill and was later diagnosed with a rare heart condition. In a TimesLive article he said “I didn’t know what happened to me. I didn’t feel anything. I was unconscious. I woke up in hospital.”
“But I’m convinced it was related to my wife’s death. You think, as a man, you have to be strong for the kids. But inside? Inside, I was breaking. I didn’t know how I was going to cope.”
In 2010 he won the PFA Merit award for his contribution to football. He was also a pundit during the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
He met Thobela Silver who he married in a lovely traditional ceremony in 2015.
More recently though Lucas Radebe has publicly made his interest to challenge SAFA president Danny Jordaan for the top job in South African Football.
However the Football Transformation Forum declared Radebe ineligible for candidacy, as rules prohibit presidential hopefuls who have served less than five years with in the national or regional structures.
There are those that want SAFA to amend the rules to allow him to run for president. Lucas Radebe says he is willing to follow the necessary steps to the top job.