/ 9 September 2008

Rhoo’s last stand

The curtain finally closed on Lucas Radebe’s soccer-playing career on Thursday night when he led Bafana Bafana on to the pitch for the last time. The former Leeds and Bafana Bafana captain has given his all both at club and national level.

Radebe, fondly known as ”Rhoo” to his fans, has been one of South Africa’s most patriotic players who, after 10 years of playing international soccer, has had to bow out because his knees have finally given in.

The Soweto-born defender will be remembered by both of the clubs he played for: Leeds for marking out Arsenal striker Thierry Henry in their 3-2 win that saved them from relegation; Bafana Bafana for scoring his second international goal in the 2002 World Cup.

Radebe’s niggling knee injury has resulted in his quitting the South African team, which will be a great loss considering what he could have contributed to South African soccer.

The 2003 cricket bid ambassador described Bafana Bafana’s friendly match against England as a historic moment and that it was ”a dream come true” for him to play against England.

”I pay my respects to Jomo Sono and the soccer fans that have supported me,” he said.

Radebe is not quite singing his swansong yet, saying that he has received offers to continue playing soccer in England but will concentrate on his last season for Leeds.

He said that he would like to stay in England after his contract ends at Leeds so that he can get further exposure to the international game.

”We need to get the South African game to higher levels and produce good players,” he said.

England captain David Beckham was full of praise for Radebe.

”It has been great to play against Radebe, he has done well at Leeds and deserves everything he gets,” he said.

Radebe was the only player from the 1997 squad on the field in the friendly match. To this day he remains South African soccer’s greatest export to Europe.

Radebe made his Bafana Bafana debut in July 1992.