Premier League icons - Lucas Radebe

football21 March 2023 04:00

Leeds United: 
Premier League titles (0): None

Former centre-back Radebe remains a revered figure at Leeds United and just recently returned to a hero’s welcome when he was paraded at Elland Road, where he has a suite named after him.

‘The Chief’, as he was affectionately known, spent 11 mostly happy years at Leeds, though the end of his stay was blighted by crippling knee and ankle injuries, as well as relegation.

In his pomp, he was one of the most respected defenders in the Premier League and helped Leeds to the Champions League semifinals in what were heady days for the club at the turn of the century.

He arrived in Yorkshire from Kaizer Chiefs along with fellow Bafana Bafana star Phil Masinga for a joint fee of £250,000 in 1994, and it is fair to say it took a while for the pair to settle.

Radebe’s breakthrough year was the 1996/97 campaign when he became a regular and kept his place until injury forced him out of the team. He captained the club to fourth and third-place finishes in the Premier League, turning down the chance to move to Manchester United, AC Milan and Roma as he became hugely sought-after.

He is also remembered for two stints in goal for Leeds, having started his career as a keeper before moving to centre-back.

The first was against Middlesbrough when regular gloveman John Lukic was injured and they had no cover on the bench. And just the following month he was in goals again when Mark Beeney was sent off after 17 minutes against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Those performances, both of which drew praise, earned him cult status at the club.  

He remains one of South Africa’s best-ever exports, and a player still remembered fondly not just by Leeds supporters, but fans from many different Premier League clubs.