Lucas from Soweto to Soccer Superstar

Lucas from Soweto to Soccer Superstar - Richard Coomber

Lucas from Soweto to Soccer Superstar

Leeds United's biggest crowd of the 2004-05 season was for a testimonial match. But this was no ordinary testimonial. The 37,889 who packed into Elland Road were paying tribute to Lucas Radebe one of the few players whose name is mentioned in the same breath as the club legends like Don Revie, Billy Bremner, John Charles, Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer, Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter. The South African international so captured the hearts of Leeds fans that they still chant his name years after he retired and the Kaiser Chiefs band took their name from his first club. In his native land he is an iconic figure, who led his country to two World Cups as they emerged from the sporting wilderness and whose reputation as a player and a man helped convince the rest of the world that the World Cup finals should go to South Africa. The kid who was rescued from the violence of the anti-apartheid struggle in Soweto when his parents sent him away from home for fear he would end up in gaol or even dead, received the ultimate accolade when Nelson Mandela declared: 'He is my hero.'
This is the story of how Lucas overcame a tough childhood, survived a shooting, and refused to be diverted from his destiny by injury, homesickness, freezing English winters and terrible English food to become not only a football superstar but acknowledged as one of the nicest people in the game. He was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award as much for his unstinting work for charities and anti-racism organisations as his immaculate defending. Lucas Radebe's story is much more than just another biography of a footballer. It is inspiring and heart-warming, tinged with tragedy yet marked throughout by his trademark smile that has lit up two continents and touched thousands of lives.
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Leeds United's biggest crowd of the 2004-05 season was for a testimonial match. But this was no ordinary testimonial. The 37,889 who packed into Elland Road were paying tribute to Lucas Radebe one of the few players whose name is mentioned in the same breath as the club legends like Don Revie, Billy Bremner, John Charles, Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer, Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter. The South African international so captured the hearts of Leeds fans that they still chant his name years after he retired and the Kaiser Chiefs band took their name from his first club. In his native land he is an iconic figure, who led his country to two World Cups as they emerged from the sporting wilderness and whose reputation as a player and a man helped convince the rest of the world that the World Cup finals should go to South Africa. The kid who was rescued from the violence of the anti-apartheid struggle in Soweto when his parents sent him away from home for fear he would end up in gaol or even dead, received the ultimate accolade when Nelson Mandela declared: 'He is my hero.'
This is the story of how Lucas overcame a tough childhood, survived a shooting, and refused to be diverted from his destiny by injury, homesickness, freezing English winters and terrible English food to become not only a football superstar but acknowledged as one of the nicest people in the game. He was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award as much for his unstinting work for charities and anti-racism organisations as his immaculate defending. Lucas Radebe's story is much more than just another biography of a footballer. It is inspiring and heart-warming, tinged with tragedy yet marked throughout by his trademark smile that has lit up two continents and touched thousands of lives.
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