Lucas Radebe

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Lucas Radebe
Lucas radebe cropped.JPG
Radebe in 2011
Personal information
Full name Lucas Valeriu Ntuba Radebe[1]
Date of birth (1969-04-12) 12 April 1969 (age 52)[1]
Place of birth Soweto, South Africa
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)[2]
Position(s) Centre back[1]
Youth career
Diepkloof Wolf Wanderers
1987–1988 ICL Birds
1989 Kaizer Chiefs Juniors
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1994 Kaizer Chiefs 113 (5)
1994–2005 Leeds United 256 (3)
Total 369 (8)
National team
1992–2003 South Africa 70 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Lucas Valeriu Ntuba Radebe OIS (born 12 April 1969) is a South African former professional footballer who played as a centre back.

He began playing in South Africa with Kaizer Chiefs, before transferring to Leeds United, where he played 256 matches for the Yorkshire side. During his spells at these clubs, he picked up the nicknames "Rhoo" and "The Chief". He became captain of Leeds United and also of the South African national team, most notably at World Cup 2002. Nelson Mandela said of Radebe: "This is my hero." He also captained Kaizer Chiefs during his time at Chiefs.

Early career[edit]

Radebe was born to Emily and Johannes Radebe in the Diepkloof section of Soweto, near Johannesburg, as one of 11 children.[3][4][5] He attended the local Bopasenatla Secondary School[6][7] until he was 15 years old. His parents sent him to one of the former homelands in Grade 10, Bophuthatswana, as a way to keep him safe from the violent neighbourhood of Diepkloof Zone Four in Soweto. There he attended Ngotwane High School near Zeerust.[6]

Club career[edit]

Kaizer Chiefs[edit]

After playing for amateur side ICL Birds in the now-defunct Bophuthatswana Soccer League, and was spotted by Patrick Ntsoelengoe who recruited him to one of South Africa's top clubs, the Kaizer Chiefs, in 1989. Radebe originally started his career with the Kaizer Chiefs as a goalkeeper, and then switched positions to central midfield and then finally to central defence.[8]

Leeds United[edit]

In 1994, Radebe and another South African player, Philemon "Chippa" Masinga, moved to Leeds United for a transfer fee of £250,000.[9] Radebe was only included in the deal to keep Masinga happy; as it turned out, he became the more valuable investment.[10]

Initially the move was not a success; Radebe did not agree with then Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson, and suffered injuries which prevented him for earning a regular first team place.

Radebe returned to the goalkeeper position in March 1996, replacing John Lukic in the position after he suffered an injury in the second half of a defeat to Middlesbrough.[11][12] Radebe would again play in the goalkeeper position the following month when goalkeeper Mark Beeney was sent off for handling the ball outside his area in the 17th minute against Manchester United.[12] Radebe was brought on as a substitute in place of Mark Ford, and despite Leeds losing 1–0, Radebe earnt 'cult-hero' status at the club due to his performance.[12][11]

However, when Wilkinson was replaced by George Graham, his career flourished and Radebe was made captain of the team for the 1998–99 season. Whilst he was captain, Leeds enjoyed a period of relative success; in the 1998–99 season, they 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 following season's Champions League, where they eventually reached the semi-finals. During this time, Radebe turned down the chance to move to Manchester United, A.C. Milan and Roma. Alex Ferguson commented at the time, "Everyone should be interested in Lucas."[13]

In 2000, he was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award.[14]

However, in 2000 Radebe sustained serious knee and ankle injuries, which kept him out of the game for almost two years, and subsequently found it difficult to regain his form and his place in the team.

International career[edit]

Following the end of apartheid, Radebe made his debut for South African national team in their first international match on 7 July 1992 against Cameroon.[3][15]

Having recently recovered from a long-term knee injury, he was a member of the South African team that won the 1996 African Cup of Nations.[3]

Radebe was also the captain of the South African national football team during both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup. South Africa failed to reach the knockout stages on both occasions; however Radebe did get on the score sheet in 2002.

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

After retiring, Radebe was influential in South Africa's successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup. He could also be seen working as a pundit for South African television, and during ITV's coverage of the tournament.

Style of play[edit]

Thebe Mabanga, a Mail & Guardian journalist, wrote that South African fans remember Radebe in his Kaizer Chiefs days as "a lanky, flamboyant central midfielder who switched to central defence with ease, snuffing out any opposition threat with exquisite, acrobatic scissor kicks and diving headers, and man-marking the most lethal strikers into silence".[16]

Post-playing career[edit]

Radebe in 2009

At the end of the 2005 season, Radebe retired from professional football. Leeds held a testimonial for Radebe at Elland Road on 2 May 2005 attended by a crowd of over 37,886. Radebe also held a retirement match in Durban, South Africa between a South African Invitation XI and Lucas Radebe All Stars at Kings Park Soccer Stadium. The proceeds from both of these matches were combined with other money raised and donated to charity.

On 28 August 2006, Radebe announced that he was going back to Leeds after failing to secure a job with the World Cup hosts to be involved in the set-up of Bafana Bafana. 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 prepared to host the next World Cup in 2010.[17]

In 2008, a local Leeds brewery asked for suggestions for a new beer; the most popular suggestion was Radebeer, showing the Leeds fans' admiration of Radebe.[18]

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

A biography, Lucas: From the Streets of Soweto to Soccer Superstar by Richard Coomber was published in 2010.[19]

In May 2010 he won the PFA Merit Award for his contribution to football.[20]

During the FIFA 2010 World Cup, Radebe was a pundit for ITV's match coverage and also a columnist for The Daily Telegraph.

Radebe revealed in September 2010 that he would like to manage Leeds United in the future and also manage the South African national side. He said both jobs were the only coaching jobs that he would consider.[21] In July 2012, it was announced that Radebe had accepted a position as team manager with the South African national side.[22]

In October 2013, Radebe announced that he was set for another emotional return to the Elland Road ground at Leeds, to be presented to the crowd on Sunday, 30 October 2013.[23]

On 23 January, it was confirmed that Boxer Josh Warrington would fight IBF world champion Lee Selby (26-1) in his first world title fight on 19 May at Elland Road with Radebe joining Warrington for the ringwalk.[24][25] On 19 May, Warrington secured a split-decision victory over Selby to claim the title. With Radebe as part of Warrington's ringwalk and band Kaiser Chiefs also played songs at the event.[26]

Personal life[edit]

In 1991, he was shot whilst driving with his brother Lazarus to buy drinks for his mother but was not critically wounded. When Leeds United confirmed their interest in 1994, Radebe's decision influenced in part by an incident that had taken place three years previously. Radebe was shopping for his mother, accompanied by his brothers, one of his sisters and her baby. While walking, they heard a gunshot, but didn't pay it much attention because, says Radebe: "In Soweto you heard shots all the time". He felt a pain in his back and he was bleeding, and his left leg went limp. Radebe was rushed to hospital but nothing vital had been damaged. The bullet had entered his back and exited halfway down his thigh. The culprit is still unknown, it is suspected that someone was hired to shoot him rather than allow him to switch clubs.[27]

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

His wife Feziwe died of cancer in October 2008.[28] In December 2008, Radebe was treated for a heart complaint after collapsing while at the gym.[28] Radebe married his second wife at the end of 2015.[29]


Kaiser Chiefs, a British indie/britpop band, whose members are all Leeds United supporters, chose this name because Radebe is a former player of Kaizer Chiefs.[30]

Radebe has been an ambassador of FIFA 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.

In April 2003, for recognition of his efforts both on an off the field, Radebe was given the Contribution to the Community Award in the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards.

On an official visit to Leeds, Nelson Mandela said of Radebe: "This is my hero."[9]

Career statistics[edit]

Sources: Soccerbase[31][32]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Continental2 Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Kaizer Chiefs1 1990–94 National Soccer League (South Africa) 113 5
Leeds United 1994–95 Premier League 12 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 14 0
1995–96 13 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 14 0
1996–97 32 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 36 0
1997–98 27 0 2 1 4 0 0 0 33 1
1998–99 29 0 3 0 1 0 3 0 36 0
1999–2000 31 0 2 0 2 0 11 2 46 2
2000–01 21 0 1 0 1 0 10 0 33 0
2001–02 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2002–03 19 0 4 0 0 0 3 0 26 0
2003–04 14 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 15 0
2004–05 Championship 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Leeds United total 201 0 16 1 12 0 27 2 256 3
Career total - - - - 369 8
  1. ^ More detailed statistics for Kaizer Chiefs games for this period are not available.
  2. ^ "Continental" includes UEFA Cup and Champions League appearances.


Appearances and goals by national team and year[33]
National team Year Apps Goals
South Africa 1992 5 0
1993 5 0
1994 5 0
1996 9 0
1997 11 1
1998 13 0
1999 7 0
2000 7 0
2001 1 0
2002 6 1
2003 1 0
Total 70 2
Scores and results list South Africa's goal tally first.
List of international goals scored by Lucas Radebe[34][35]
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 17 December 1997 King Fahd II Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  Uruguay 1–0 3–4 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup
2 12 June 2002 Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, South Korea  Spain 2–2 2–3 2002 FIFA World Cup


South Africa

Kaizer Chiefs Champions (3) - record: 1989, 1991, 1992


  1. ^ a b c "Lucas Radebe". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Lucas Radebe: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Makhaya, Ernest (12 April 2020). "From troubled beginnings to icon: Kaizer Chiefs and Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe". Goal. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  4. ^ Hay, Phil (19 May 2020). "Radebe: Sometimes I don't believe it, that it was my name Mandela used". The Athletic. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Lucas Radebe – Footballer". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Radebe donates computers to school". Independent Online. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  7. ^ Adams, Sheena (23 February 2007). "Radebe relives high school life". Independent Online. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  8. ^ "Lucas Radebe – World-class footballer". Gauteng Tourism. Gauteng.
  9. ^ a b Shaw, Phil (28 April 2005). "Lucas Radebe: The original Kaiser Chief". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Lucas Radebe: The Chief". Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  11. ^ a b Harris, Jordan (4 April 2016). "Remembering Leeds' most notable goalkeeping performance from a defender following Giuseppe Bellusci's cameo". HITC. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Mewis, Joe (7 November 2019). "The story of Lucas Radebe's goalkeeping heroics at Man United". LeedsLive. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  13. ^ Hay, Phil (20 September 2010). "Leeds United: Lucas Radebe interview". Yorkshire Evening Post. Leeds. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
  14. ^ "Lucas Radebe to receive the FIFA Fair Play Award for 2000". Archived from the original on 22 December 2012.
  15. ^ Gleeson, Mark (6 July 2017). "What happened to the 12 men who played for Bafana in that first game 25 years ago?". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  16. ^ Brad Morgan. "Lucas Radebe: The Chief". Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Radebe quits South Africa". BBC Sport. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Cheers Lucas!". Leeds United F.C. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  19. ^ Lucas Radebe: From Soweto to Soccer Superstar: Richard Coomber: Books. ASIN 1905080735.
  20. ^ "Radebe recognised at PFA awards". 8 October 2009. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  21. ^ "Leeds only club for me – Radebe". BBC News. 24 September 2010.
  22. ^ "SAFA's master-stroke: Lucas Radebe returns as Bafana team manager". Neal Collins. 2 July 2012.
  23. ^ "Leeds legend Radebe set for emotional return to Elland Road". Yorkshire Post. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Venue for Lee Selby vs Josh Warrington announced". Boxing News. 30 January 2018. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Date set for Lee Selby vs Josh Warrington". Boxing News. 23 January 2018. Archived from the original on 10 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  26. ^ "BoxRec". Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  27. ^ "The Wounded Chief". Sky Sports.
  28. ^ a b "Radebe recovers after heart scare". BBC Sport. 23 December 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  29. ^ "Lucas Radebe says 'I Do' – SundayWorld". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  30. ^ "Interview: Kaiser Chiefs". Music OMH. April 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  31. ^ "Lucas Radebe". Soccerbase. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  32. ^ "Leeds Stats" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  33. ^ "Lucas Radebe". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  34. ^ "South Africa - International Matches 1996-2000". Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  35. ^ "South Africa - International Matches 2001-2005". Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  36. ^ "African Nations Cup 1996 - Final Tournament Details". Retrieved 27 March 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]