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Lucas Radebe statistics history, goals, assists, game log - Leeds
Sometimes it led to scary local turf-wars. He finally made it back into the first team three days after Christmas Lucas was determined to fight for his place — he and Leeds had come a long way together and he wanted to enjoy the fruits of all that effort and dedication.
He would certainly be out of action until Christmas and it might even be career threatening. South Africa is very proud of the achievements of Lucas Radebe.
Leeds legend Peter Lorimer acknowledged this when Lucas eventually returned to training: Leeds Council gave him their Power to Change award. And Lucas was about to be given a massive personal boost — he was named as the new captain of Leeds United.
The only bright spot in an anxious time was the visit of Nelson Mandela to Leeds. One thing Lucas never quite managed to conquer was his fear of flying but because of his loyalty to both Leeds and South Africa, he found he was having to sit through more and more nervy take-offs and landings.
He fought his way back to fitness in less than a month but on his return to the team against Sunderland he injured the other knee.
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Few footballers have made such an impact on the lives of others as Lucas and his incredible contribution over the previous ten years was acknowledged in a series of presentations.
Some of the biggest names in football came to play in the game and supporters from South Africa, the USA, across Europe and from around Britain, made the journey to say thank you to a great talent and a special man.
The fans quickly took notice of the composed newcomer when he did a brilliant marking job on the great Jomo Sono in only his second match. The only cloud on the horizon was a rumour that Graham was being chased by Tottenham Hotspur and was keen to return to London.
From his father he inherited a sense of humour and self-discipline. It was a tall order and even though they dominated Saudi Arabia they could only manage a draw.
The bond between him and the people of his second home never ceased to amaze him. Chiefs won the BP Cup Final and went on to clinch the league championship with Lucas drawing more and more praise from journalists and the fans. The Leeds manager said: But all those plans were rocked by the news that his beloved wife Feziwe had been diagnosed with cancer.
Suddenly the prospects for a footballer looked very different. He was 20 years old and a fully-fledged professional footballer. It was the start of a friendship and business relationship, sealed with nothing more than a handshake, which still endures today.
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He scored his first goal against Wits and quickly grew in stature as the Chiefs went on to lift the Castle Cup. Two years later, inhe moved to England, where he joined Leeds United.
The predicted change of ownership at Leeds also brought a change of manager following a defeat by Manchester United. When he was 15 years old, his parents sent him away to Bophuthatswana to avoid the violence in the township. And there was the agonising thought that he would probably miss playing in the African Cup of Nations finals which were to be staged in South Africa the following January.
What made it really special was that deep down I never really thought I would be fit enough to play out there.
It was only for seconds but it persuaded Bafana coach Clive Barker that Leeds felt Lucas was ready to resume his career. Like most teenagers, Lucas became involved in the anti-apartheid demonstrations with his fellow Comrades, frustrated that negotiations towards majority rule seemed to make no progress.
The team had not been performing as well as the season before, and their expensively-assembled team had been built with Champions League football in mind. Bafana were humbled by a loss.
He managed three reserve games, after which in each he woke up hardly able to get out of bed. Some died in clashes with the police and military.
The frustration added to his feelings of homesickness and he spent a small fortune feeding coins into a pay phone just so he could hear the voices of his family. Democracy finally came to South Africa in April Again he was noted for his bravery — he played on for 70 minutes in a Castle Cup semi-final despite taking a boot in the face that broke several of his teeth and had blood pouring from a gash in his tongue.
It was the beginning of the end of apartheid.