Saturday 16 December 2017

Radebe: Leeds call nearly criminal

Lucas Radebe is a friend of Nelson Mandela and one of Leeds United's finest players of modern times but he came within a whisker of returning to a life of crime in Johannesburg.

Just before Christmas in 1994, after a tough few months in Leeds, he was depressed, homesick and heading home with his bags packed and an airline ticket in his pocket. "When I arrived it was horrible, I hated it," he said. He had started just one match for his new team in four months. "I never played in the big games and I was getting depressed and homesick. The worst part was the weather, it was horrible and I thought I am just going to go. I wasn't going to tell anybody, I was just going."

But he changed his mind, won a place in the side which saw him rise from being Soweto hoodlum to one of Africa's best-loved footballers. Referring to his youth, he said: "I got involved in crime, gangsterism, hijackings. We made sure that when tomorrow came we had something in our stomachs. But that's the lifestyle I knew growing up."

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