English Premier League returnees Leeds United have immortalised former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas “Rhoo” Radebe yet again. This time, the legendary defender features on a larger-than-life work of art on a building wall in the Leeds, UK, city centre.
The monumental piece along the River Aire in the West Yorkshire city was painted by renowned street artist Akse P19 and it was unveiled at the weekend to mark a new partnership between Leeds United and Roc Nation, an entertainment agency owned by rapper Jay-Z.
Radebe features prominently on the large ancient red-brick block, alongside Leeds and England star Kalvin Phillips, as well as the club’s other South African legend, Albert Johanneson.
“I’m so honoured and humbled to be muralised in the city I love alongside @Kalvinphillips and fellow South African, the legendary Albert Johanneson, who paved the way for black footballers,” tweeted Radebe on Tuesday.
Leeds United said the club’s partnership with the New York-based company was to “support the growth of the club’s brand in key markets of the USA and Asia as it continues to broaden its footprint in the realm of global football”.
Elaborating further on the work of art, Leeds United told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Albert Johanneson was the first high-profile black player to represent Leeds United, as well as the first player of African heritage to play in an FA Cup final in 1965. The South African winger made nearly 200 appearances for the club between 1961 and 1970. Joining Johanneson on the mural is Lucas Radebe, better known as The Chief.”
Also hailing from South Africa, The Chief joined the club alongside countryman [the late] Phil Masinga in 1994 and became a cult hero at Elland Road, making over 200 appearances during an 11-year stay, and retiring in 2005.
Radebe proudly wore the captain’s armband for both Leeds United and the South African national team, including during the 2002 World Cup when Nelson Mandela referred to Radebe as “my hero”.
“Both of these players paved the way for many young athletes from an array of backgrounds to play for Leeds United – none more so than Kalvin Phillips. The Yorkshire Pirlo [reference to Italian football coach Andrea Pirlo] is Leeds born and raised, as well as being immensely proud of his Jamaican ancestry.
“Kalvin, depicted at the heart of the mural, is a fan favourite and has made a flying start to his first Premier League season, recently making his debut for the England national team.”
Johanneson’s eldest daughter Yvonne was quoted as saying: “On behalf of the Johanneson family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leeds United Football Club and Roc Nation for its decision to include my father, Albert Johanneson, as a face in its effort to openly acknowledge and celebrate the indelible mark that people of colour have made on the club’s successes, both historically and in the present.”
Meanwhile, Roc Nation has in their stable Springboks captain Siya Kolisi and has recently signed Proteas cricketer Lungi Ngidi.