Fan memories of "humble and caring" Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe known as 'The Chief'

He was a titan at Elland Road and remembered fondly by fans as a "magnificent man".

Sunday, 15th August 2021, 11:45 am

Lucas Valeriu Ntuba Radebe, was born in Soweto, South Africa.

He was one of 11 children.

In 1989, he was offered a contract to play for the Kaizer Chiefs, a professional football club in Johannesburg.

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Adrian Mutu of Chelsea holds off Lucas Radebe of Leeds during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Leeds United and Chelsea at Elland Road on December 6, 2003 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Radebe signed for Leeds United in 1996.

Now 52, Radebe played 256 games for the Whites in a career at the club spanning more than a decade.

He earned 'cult-hero' status for the team thanks to heroics in goal at Old Trafford but is fondly remembered as a tough-tackling centre-back from 1994 to 2005.

He cost Howard Wilkinson just £250,000 from leading South African club Kaizer Chiefs.

Moments before Radebe went between the sticks at Old Trafford

Having joined within weeks of fellow countryman Phil Masinga, Radebe went on to make a huge impact.

Radebe was made captain of Leeds United in the 98-99 season and the team finished fourth in the same year.

He also received the FIFA Fair Play Award in December 2000 for his work against tackling racism and his help with children in his home country of South Africa.

Radebe was also influential in South Africa's successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup following his retirement in 2005.

He scored three goals in his time at Leeds United.

Despite not being known for his prowess in front of goal, his effort in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup tie with Partizan Belgrade will be fondly remembered.

Radebe miraculously scored with an overhead kick while lying on his back.

He was also a member of the South African team that won the 1996 African Cup of Nations.

Radebe led his country in the 2002 World Cup to become South Africa’s most capped player.

Unfortunately, injuries prevented Radebe from more playing time at the club towards the end of his career.

Speaking to the BBC of his time at Elland Road, Radebe said: "I always try my best.

"I think the fans are part of the team and the club... without them there is no Leeds United.

"I've got no regrets. It's been a great career and I've got a lot of memories to go away with.

"I think people will always respect me and know how I've contributed to the club.

"Hopefully they will take it from there and with the attitude and everybody else's support get the club to where it belongs."

After his retirement, Radebe was given a testimonial match by Leeds, attracting a crowd over 37,800.

Here, Leeds United fans remember his time at Elland Road:

Trevor Binks: "Absolutely awesome player and he rejected offers from different clubs."

Jody Grant: "Named my son after the chief."

Gary Peacock: "Lucas stayed at the Golden Lion Hotel, now The Cosmopolitan Hotel on Lower Briggate, with Phil Masinga when they first came over.

"He became a real favourite of the staff.

"I managed the place a couple of years after he'd moved out and a good friend of mine who ran South West Whites....Nigel Amott....RIP....invited Lucas to a photo session at the hotel on the Saturday morning.

"I guess he was injured at the time.

"I have to say he is a magnificent man, humble and caring.

"He was equally interested in the staff he remembered from his stay at the hotel, as well as photos and autographs for the Leeds fans staying from the South West .

"True legend on and off the pitch, in Leeds and South Africa."

Michael Chiocci: "His testimonial. Such an emotional day, enjoyed with my dad and good friends."

Damian Healey: "Definitely in goal at Old Trafford, we made some noise that game."

John McGeechan: "That photo there [in goal] is The Chief's favourite memory of playing for us, he even said it himself.

"Even though we lost, he still looks back at that one with immense fondness."

Richard Foster: "I remember him scoring a goal in the UEFA Cup.

"He was on his back in the opposition penalty area and just did a bicycle kick while on the ground.

"Always stuck in my mind that one."