English Premiership

Radebe: 'The Premier League misses Leeds United'

Lucas Radebe (Twitter)
Lucas Radebe (Twitter)

Cape Town - Former Bafana Bafana and Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe said that seeing the club he adores plummeting from the Premier League to League One was hard to witness.

"The Chief" as he is affectionately known, donned the club colours for more than a decade and clocked 256 appearances for the Yorkshire outfit.

In 1998/99 season he was entrusted with captaining the side and the club finished fourth in the Premier League and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

The following season Leeds finished third on the log and qualified for the Champions League.

In the 2000/01 season, United reached the Champions League semi-finals where they suffered a 3-0 defeat against Valencia.

Two seasons later, United got relegated in 2004 as Radebe waved goodbye to Elland Road in his final season at the club.

After three seasons in the Championship, Leeds faced the chop and eventually saw themselves competing in League One for three tough seasons.

However, in 2010 they dwindled their way back to the Championship and has since struggled gain promotion to the Premier League.

"It’s a bit sad to see, especially watching from the distance and having seen the club plummeting to that level. Such a big name, such a big club," Radebe tells Sport24.

"Having not participated in the top flight (Premier League) is sad. But the Premier League misses Leeds United.

"The city itself, the culture and the tradition are very rich," he adds.

Radebe’s time at the Elland Road means so much to the Yorkshire community that fans who grew up idolising the defender started to name their new-born children after the player.

"They're not mine though," he laughs hysterically.

"But that is a legacy for me to be revered... after such a long time, having played for the club, I think it means something in terms of the relationship that have with the club."

The Whites mark 100 years of existence in October after being formed in 1919 and Radebe reveals that he will be in Yorkshire to celebrate the centenary later this year.

"I still go to Leeds. I try to visit every year. This year I am invited again for the celebration of a hundred years," he said.