Leeds United: Fans aiming to secure highest honour for Radebe

Lucas Radebe.
Lucas Radebe.
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A campaign has been launched for football hero Lucas Radebe to be given the freedom of the city of Leeds.

The Leeds United fans behind the campaign say the former Whites skipper’s achievements on and off the pitch mean he would be a worthy recipient of the highest honour the city can bestow.

An online petition backing the call for ‘The Chief’ to be made a Freeman by the city council has already attracted hundreds of signatures.

And today the campaign won high-profile backing from another United great, Revie-era legend Peter Lorimer.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “This is something I’d like to see – Lucas is a great ambassador for both the club and the city.”

The push for South African-born Radebe to be honoured is being organised by the loadsofleeds.com fan website.

A message on the site says: “Not only was Lucas Radebe a great football player and superb captain for Leeds United but he has also been a superb ambassador for our football club.

“Let’s not wait until it is too late to show the Chief exactly how much he means to Leeds United supporters everywhere.”

Leeds’s select band of Freemen includes philanthropist and businessman Jimi Heselden, fundraising heroine Jane Tomlinson, writer Alan Bennett and Radebe’s fellow countryman Nelson Mandela.

Former city MP Lord Healey and Leeds International Pianoforte Competition founder Dame Fanny Waterman are among the other figures given the honour.

Radebe, now aged 41, made more than 200 appearances for United between 1994 and 2005.

The cultured central defender’s special place in the hearts of the club’s supporters was highlighted when 38,000 turned out for his testimonial match at Elland Road.

Fans also flocked to acclaim him when he made a book-signing appearance before Leeds’s home game against Sheffield United last September.

Radebe received Fifa’s Fair Play Award in 2000 for his work on behalf of children in South Africa and his dedication to combating racism in football.

To add your name to the petition, visit the www.loadsofleeds.com website.

* The freedom of Leeds is a largely symbolic title that has its roots in the Middle Ages, when a ‘Freeman’ was not the serf of a lord but could earn money and own land.

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