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Lucas Radebe
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Regarded almost unanimously as the jewel in the Elland Road crown, United's former skipper Lucas was the best defender to have pulled on a Leeds shirt since the Revie era until the arrival of Rio Ferdinand.

No wonder then, that former boss David O'Leary's wish list to the board when he succeeded George Graham as manager in October 1998, included as a priority the desire to secure the South African at Elland for the rest of his career.

With that in mind, the Irishman was delighted when Lucas agreed a new four year deal in December of the same year.

Radebe's reading of the game and subsequent frequent last ditch saving tackles, along with his ability to smother opposition dangermen as a top class man to man marker distinguish him from run of the mill Premiership defenders.

George Graham, a man not given to gushing praise unless it was thoroughly deserved, said of Lucas when appointing him captain for the 1998/99 season:
"It shows the confidence I have in him and how much I rate him."

It was also noticeable that of all the players George Graham inherited from Howard Wilkinson the first one given a new long term contract was Lucas, which led to jokes in the dressing room that Lucas was in fact George's long lost son!!!

Only lengthy injury problems denied him the chance to make his mark in his first two years in England, Radebe has really come to the fore in the last two seasons, and finally is now being recognised as as a good a defender as there is in the Premier League.

Having captained Bafana Bafana to victory in the African Nations Cup Finals in 1996, Lucas then had the honour to lead his nation into their first ever World Cup finals in 1998.

Despite noises from Italy in the summer 2000, Radebe pledged to see out his career at Elland Road.

David O'Leary said: "Lucas should be set in stone and never allowed to leave!"

The following season was a stop start affair as Radebe struggled with a series of injuries, but the South African was a vital member of the Leeds squad and has a burning desire to lift a trophy in Leeds colours before hanging up his boots.

The 2001/02 season was another nightmare for the likeable South African who failed to make a single appearance, but amazingly it ended with him leading his country in the 2002 World Cup after he proved his fitness at the end of the campaign.

Now the holder of a record number of caps for his nation, he scored in Bafana Bafana's defeat by Spain in South Korea and can now look forward to the end of his career at Elland Road with renewed optimism.

Last season was spent on and off the treatment table as his knees began to creak under the strain of his considerable experience.  He continued to put Leeds first though as he played on through considerable pain - pain that often left him unable to move properly the next day - and Lucas calls the pain 'good pain' as it's from doing what he does best, playing football.

Now in his testimonial season at the club, when Lucas decides to call it a day he will be remembered not only for his superb attitude on the field, but his dedication to good causes off it too.

He is an ambassador for S.O.S. Children's Villages in South Africa, an ambassador for South Africa's 2010 World Cup bid and was honoured by the Premier League for his work in the community, which has seen him spearhead several reading and literacy campaigns.

*Lucas Radebe suffered a ruptured Achilles injury in the game against Wolves, August 14th 2004, and is expected to be out of action until April at the earliest.

Date of Birth: Saturday, 12 April, 1969

Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa

Height: 6 1

Position: Defender

Squad Number: 5

Transfer Date Fee ( )
Kaiser Cheifs 05/09/1994 250,000
 
Tournament Team Apps GL YC RC
Coca Cola Championship Leeds 1 (1) 0 0 0
Total   1 (1) 0 0 0

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