There’s nothing rude about Rhoo

2010-11-13 00:00

WITH sporting biographies launched recently that have ranged from the controversial to the sleazy, the life story of football legend Lucas Radebe is a breath of fresh air.

Following the controversial autobiographies of former Proteas coach Mickey Arthur and player Herschelle Gibbs, Radebe recently launched a book by English author Richard Coomber that tells the rags-to-riches success story of the former Kaizer Chiefs, Leeds United and Bafana Bafana captain and footballing superstar.

Lucas: from the Streets of Soweto to Soccer Superstar has received positive reviews in England, where it was launched by Radebe at Leeds’s home ground, Elland Road, in September.

“A compelling insight into a Leeds legend”, wrote Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph.

Simon Hart of the Independent on Sunday wrote: “Takes the reader through a dramatic period in the history of Leeds United, but even more fascinating is the insight it provides into Radebe’s personal journey.”

Coomber’s book tells the story of Radebe’s troubled teens growing up in Diepkloof, Soweto, during the violence of the 1980s, where he stole and hijacked cars and survived a shooting.

Radebe was saved from drifting towards a life of crime and political violence when his parents sent him to the former homeland of Bophuthatswana.

Concentrating on his football, the tall central defender was spotted and signed by Kaizer Chiefs, where he became a star overnight.

His performances led to the transfer to Leeds in 1994, along with Mamelodi Sundowns striker Phil Masinga, at the time a pioneering move to the Premier League for South African footballers.

Out of the country for the first time, homesick and unable to break into the Leeds first team, Radebe almost returned home. But the arrival of a new manager, George Graham, to replace Howard Wilkinson, heralded the beginning of a period of great success for Leeds and its star defender, who also became the team’s captain and led them to a Champions League semi-final.

His legend in his home country grew when Radebe was instrumental in South Africa’s 1996 African Cup of Nations victory on home soil. Later he replaced Neil Tovey as captain and led Bafana to two World Cups.

Radebe’s life has been touched by tragedy too, with wife Feziwe dying from cancer in October 2008, leaving the former footballer a single father of two sons. Radebe is regarded as one of Leeds’s greatest players and is still revered in the northern English city. The former football star is a Fifa ambassador.

Coomber has previously written the biography of English boxing referee Mickey Vann.

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