From a boyhood in apartheid era South Africa to captain of Leeds United football club, Lucas Radebe’s story is truly inspirational. A former professional footballer, turned speaker, Lucas showed drive, determination and resilience to become one of South African’s most iconic sportsmen, and now he shares his emotional story with audiences as a speaker.
Becoming the first black player to captain a Premier League team is a history defining moment, and one of Lucas’s proudest achievements. After an impressive early career with South African side Kaiser Chiefs, where Lucas made 113 appearances between 1990 and 1994, Lucas moved to the English, Premier League in 1994. A skilled centre back with incredible ability to read the game, Lucas was named captain of Leeds United in 1999, a huge achievement personally and for race equality.
Growing up in South Africa in the the 70s and 80s was a dangerous experience for Lucas as he experienced the apartheid. Sent away by his parents to Bophuthatswana to escape the violence of his home town, Lucas joined the Soccer League whilst he was there. In 1989 he was scouted, playing for ICL Birds and recruited for the Kaiser Chiefs, and thus began his lucrative career as a professional footballer.
Lucas has also represented South Africa in their first ever non-racial team, making his debut in 1992. The national side, referred to as Bafana Bafana (The Boys, The Boys), won the Afican Nations Cup and played in their first ever World Cup with Lucas as captain. Over the course of his career, Lucas gained seventy caps for South Africa, and after his retirement in 2003 successfully campaigned for the country to hold the 2010 World Cup.
Aware of his fortune, and the platform he gained as a footballer, Lucas continues to contribute to philanthropic projects both in South African and Leeds. Some of the charities he supports include: FIFA for SOS Children’s Villages, Global Citizen and Special Olympics. Devoting his time, money and platform to creating better lives for others has seen Lucas recognised with the Contribution to the Community Award in the Premier League in 2002 and given a PFA Merit Award in 2010 for his work in sports.
Named in the Top 100 Great South Africans list, Lucas Radebe is an icon of inclusivity in sport. One of Leeds’ best loved sportsmen, Lucas truly made his mark as an inspirational person in sport and in the world. The reach of Lucas’ inspiration was even acknowledged by Nelson Mandela who said ‘this is my hero’ on meeting Lucas. An experienced speaker, Lucas will leave your audiences enlightened and inspired.