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Lucas Radebe, the chief of Elland Road

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Something that is wonderful in sports is the different stories of success and improvement that allow people of different backgrounds and characteristics to have. Particularly in football, this is more noticeable because it is the most universal sport that exists and reaches almost every corner of the planet and that has produced very curious stories that are fascinating, so we are going to tell the story of a football player who, perhaps, is not so remembered these days.

Lucas Valeriu Radebe was born in Soweto, South Africa, on April 12, 1969, in a family with very limited resources and who was in an area that was surrounded by the violence in which the African country was at the time, which led his parents to make the decision to send him, at age 14, to the defunct Republic of Bophuthatswana (that region is now part of South Africa) to get away from such a dangerous environment.

There Radebe would start playing football at an amateur level, where he would stand out enormously and lead Kaiser Chiefs FC, one of the most important teams in South Africa, to sign him in 1989. When he was one of the young center backs in the African continent, he was being followed by several clubs in Europe, including Besiktas JK, Radebe was shot while shopping for his family. This alienated the majority of clubs interested in signing him.

However, Radebe’s luck would take a 180° turn when, in 1994, Leeds United FC completed the signing of Phil Masinga (RIP), a 1.93m striker who had some very good goal statistics in the South African league and who was one of the referents of football in that country.

Thanks to the recommendation of one of the scouts of the English club, who had already followed up with Radebe and Masinga’s agent, it was possible to include the center back in the transfer, which was done to basically facilitate Masinga’s adaptation in England.

Fate is so curious that The Chief, as he is known in Leeds and as he is called in one of the songs that are still sung on Ellan Road today, became a legend of the English club with more than 250 games and 11 consecutive seasons, while Masinga left Leeds United FC a couple of years after his arrival.

After his retirement from professional football in 2005, he has had varied roles in football, TV and even in Boxing. However, something that has been constant has been his participation in different social causes mainly focused on the children that Radebe hopes to give to a chance in life like the one he had thanks to football.

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