Lucas Radebe (born 4 December 1969) is a former South African
soccer player and national team captain.
Radebe was born in the Diepkloof section of Soweto, near
Johannesburg, 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
soccer (as a goalkeeper).
He was later spotted and signed by the Kaizer Chiefs Football
Club as a midfielder. In 1991 he was shot while walking down the
street, although not critically. 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
Radebe was first included in the South Africa national football
team in 1992.
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 for GBP 250,000. In 1996, he
was a member of the South African team that won the African
Radebe became a star player for Leed and was nicknamed "The
Chief" by its fans. In recognition of his leadership and ability,
Radebe was appointed as captain of the team for the 1998/1999
soccer season. Radebe was also the captain of the South African
national soccer team (nicknamed the Bafana Bafana) in the 1998
Football World Cup.
As captain of Leeds, Radebe was very successful: in the
1998/1999 season, Leeds finished fourth in the Premier League,
thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup. During the 1999/2000 season,
Leed finished third in the Premier League and qualified for the
Champions League, where they made it through to the semi-finals.
In 2000, Radebe sustained knee and ankle injuries, which kept
him out of soccer for almost two years. After his recovery, he
captained South Africa in the 2002 Football World Cup. Radebe
has also 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.
Radebe has now (2004) retired from international soccer but
still plays for Leeds United. He was voted 54th in the Top 100
Great South Africans (see List of South Africans) in 2004.