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Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe backs Marcelo Bielsa's team to play in Europe soon


Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe backs Marcelo Bielsa’s team to be playing in Europe ‘in the next five years’ as defender known as ‘The Chief’ recalls time he was shot back home in South Africa, eating Yorkshire pudding and drinking Tetley Bitter!

  • Leeds legend Radebe has enjoyed the club’s return to the top-flight under Bielsa
  • Former defender backs Leeds to soon be playing European football again
  • Recalling his 11 years at Elland Road, Radebe speaks about adapting to England
  • He was accepted in Yorkshire straight away after moving from South Africa 
  • Radebe found the local customs of eating roast beef and Yorkshire pudding odd 
  • But things could have been different after Radebe was shot in 1991 

Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe is backing his former club to make a play for European football under manager Marcelo Bielsa.

The Premier League newcomers have enjoyed an impressive return to top-flight football to point towards a season of more than simply fighting relegation.

And Radebe, who made 256 appearances for the Elland Road club during their previous stretch in England’s top division, believes his ex-club will break back into European football sooner rather than later – provided Bielsa stays in charge.

Lucas Radebe prepares to tackle Derby's Deon Burton during a 5-0 Leeds win in March 1998

Lucas Radebe prepares to tackle Derby’s Deon Burton during a 5-0 Leeds win in March 1998

Portsmouth forward Yakubu feels the full force of Radebe at Elland Road in April 2005

Portsmouth forward Yakubu feels the full force of Radebe at Elland Road in April 2005

‘While Marcelo is there, I believe they will play in Europe soon. It would be absolutely amazing and I can see, in the way they play, they are poised and they want to play in Europe’, the 51-year-old said.

‘I think the chairman – he is investing heavily and that shows his intention with Leeds United. I think it’s possible that in the next five years they will be in Europe, which will be an absolute achievement, and I will come over for that.’ 

In a wide-ranging discussion with the Doing A Leeds podcast, which is presented by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis and former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford, former centre half Radebe reminisces on his first impressions of Yorkshire when he arrived in 1994 and the moment he realised he’d been shot on his way to the shops for his mother back in South Africa.

‘Coming from South Africa, I didn’t know any better, and I got to a place called Yorkshire,’ he said.

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds returned to the Premier League after 16 years away this season

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds returned to the Premier League after 16 years away this season

Radebe believes that Bielsa's team will be back playing European football within five years

Radebe believes that Bielsa’s team will be back playing European football within five years

Leeds have started well on their Premier League return, drawing with Man City last time out

Leeds have started well on their Premier League return, drawing with Man City last time out

‘The people were absolutely brilliant, I think the nicest people I’ve ever met, never mind the players, the fans, because, for me, the one thing that I think kept me going, is seeing the fans and getting in touch with the fans.

‘Signing autographs, even if they didn’t know who I was. The biggest thing was that I appreciated the club that got me playing in the Premiership.

‘I was adapting to the football and to living in a different country where I appreciate the people in how they love me unconditionally.

‘I come from a country where they look at the colour of the skin but there I was enjoying the banter with the boys, I was one of them, and I was a Yorkshireman – apart from having to eat Yorkshire pudding, and beef and Tetley bitter and all that!’ 

South African defender Radebe became a Leeds club legend during 11 years at the club

South African defender Radebe became a Leeds club legend during 11 years at the club

The defender known as 'The Chief' tackles West Ham's Ammassi Abou during a 1997-98 game

The defender known as ‘The Chief’ tackles West Ham’s Ammassi Abou during a 1997-98 game

Radebe tests Manchester United keeper Peter Schmeichel with a header at Old Trafford

Radebe tests Manchester United keeper Peter Schmeichel with a header at Old Trafford

But things could have ended up far differently in 1991 when he was shot back in his homeland whilst running errands for his mother with brother Lazarus.

‘I went to go buy drinks and we were driving, and we heard a gunshot. I was with my brother and cousin in the car, and we heard a gunshot, but because the sound of the guns then was so normal we thought it was a firecracker, until I realised my back was on fire.

‘Then I reached to my back and there was blood and my left leg went numb, and the car stalled. My brother took over and we went straight to the hospital, and my first question was, ‘will I be able to continue playing football?”

To listen to the full interview with Lucas Radebe, find the Doing A Leeds podcast on Spotify.

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