Leeds fans show Lucas the love


3 May 2005

The largest crowd of the season packed in at Leeds United’s Elland Road on Monday to show their support for Lucas Radebe’s 10 years with the club as an International Eleven tackled a Leeds United Eleven in a star-studded benefit match.

Over £300 000 (R3.47-million) was raised towards Radebe’s target of £500 000 (R5.79-million), which he wants to donate to eight charities.

Lucas Radebe
“The Chief” grew up in one of the toughest parts of Soweto during a violent time in SA’s history. That he went on to became one of the English Premier League’s most respected players – and SA’s most-capped footballer – is in many ways a miracle.

Radebe’s benefit brought together a number of former fan favourites in the Leeds United Eleven. Gordon Strachan, Tony Yeboah, Gary McAllister, David Wetherall, Nigel Martyn and Vinnie Jones all took to the field to huge applause.

On the other side of the ground, World Eleven goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar showed off his eccentric ways, while Nigerian midfield maestro Jay-Jay Okocha mesmerised the fans with his skills.

On field action
The Leeds United Eleven was first on the scoresheet when Aaron Lennon followed up a Gary McAllister shot that Grobbelaar could only tip away to score.

Besikatas striker and Norwegian international Jon Carew pulled the World Eleven level with a shot from the edge of the area, and Dutch international Mario Melchiot also struck to put the World side one-clear at the break.

All through the game, players on both sides – because he played for both sides – attempted to lay on a goal for “The Chief”, and it eventually came in the second half when he was cut down by Gary Kelly in the penalty area.

Lucas scores
Radebe took the spot kick, sending goalkeeper Neil Sullivan the wrong way, to put the World Eleven 3-1 up to rapturous applause from the crowd.

Leeds Ladies’ striker Lucy Ward then reduced the deficit to one goal when she beat Grobbelaar after a run from the halfway line.

The World Eleven stormed back, though, with former Leeds man Gunnar Halle setting up Ally McCoist and Jay-Jay Okocha for goals, which put them 5-2 in front.

McCoist struck again to make it 6-2 before Matthew Kilgallon pulled one back for the Leeds Eleven with a chip over Grobbelaar to make it 6-3.

Cherry on the top
The game, though, was all about Lucas Radebe, and he put the cherry on the top with his second goal of the contest, a curling, unstoppable shot from the edge of the area to made the final score 7-3 for the World Eleven.

In news that many Leeds fans will welcome, Radebe revealed that Leeds United coach Kevin Blackwell has asked him to consider a coaching role with the club. However, there are plenty of people interested in the popular former South Africa captain.

Radebe says he has been approached by the South African Football Association. “They wanted me to get involved earlier”, he said, “but I’ve stalled them because I had a job to finish at Leeds.”

Return to Kaizer Chiefs?
In the long term, Radebe sees his former club, Kaizer Chiefs, as another option, and the Amakhosi would surely welcome “The Chief” back into their fold.

Then there is Fifa. Football’s world governing body have made contact with Radebe and extended a number of invitations to meet with him.

Before he looks that far ahead, however, Radebe says he is desperate to play one last game for Leeds United. They face Rotherham in their final Coca-Cola Championship match of the season on Sunday.

Radebe, who has turned out 261 times for the Whites, says he has spoken to coach Blackwell about getting a run, and Blackwell has told him he will “create something” for him.

Leeds fans would no doubt enjoy the opportunity to show their love for the man they call “The Chief” once more.

Lucas’s charity benefactors

SOS Children’s Villages
A worldwide charity providing a whole living environment for orphaned children. The mission statement of SOS is “helping children who have nothing and no one”. The charity was recently confirmed as Fifa’s charity partner for World Cup 2006.

Open Arms Malawi
Malawi suffers from one of the highest recorded incidences of HIV/Aids. Open Arms Infant Home is a transition home providing 40 Aids orphans with food, medicine and security. It also acts as a hospice to those babies who carry the HIV virus.

Starfish supports South African children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/Aids. By 2010 an estimated 2.3-million children could be orphaned as a result of Aids in SA. Instead of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pandemic, Starfish believes in helping each child, one at a time.

Lineham Farm
Lineham Farm is a residential centre on the northern outskirts of Leeds which offers rural activities and outdoor pursuits to children and young people from less privileged communities in the region.

Martin House
One of only a very few dedicated hospices for young people and children, Martin House operates almost entirely on donated funds.

Variety Club of Great Britain
The Variety Club, Yorkshire region, improve the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children throughout the region by helping to fund Sunshine Coaches, wheelchairs, specialist equipment and numerous other projects.

Childline is the United Kingdom’s free, 24-hour helpline for children in distress or danger. Trained volunteer counsellors comfort, advise and protect children and young people who feel they have nowhere else to turn. Everyday around 4 000 children call Childline, but lack of funds means that only 1 800 of them can get through.

Teenage Cancer Unit at Leeds Teaching Hospitals
The six-bed Teenage Cancer Unit at St James’s provides a specially designed service that delivers expert medical, therapeutic, supportive and social care in a “home from home” environment for teenagers and young adults with cancer and for their families across Yorkshire.

Source: Leeds United

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