The wounded chief

The orginal Kaiser Chief

Last Updated: 02/10/10 12:10pm

Spectacular goals, fantastic careers, and injuries are our bread and butter on the Soccer AM orange sofas, but unsurprisingly being shot isn't a topic of discussion with your average player.

"It was like my back was on fire. I was in a car with my younger brother and I remember my leg going numb and then the car stalled."

Lucas Radebe

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Then again, Lucas Radebe is most definitely not your average player and when the Leeds United legend speaks, everyone sits up and takes notice.

Born in South Africa, Radebe grew up in Diepkloof section of Soweto and in 1991 he began his professional career at the Kaizer Chiefs.

Three years later Howard Wilkinson took the classy central defender to Leeds along with fellow countryman Phil Masinga, but he revealed how a bullet nearly brought a premature end to his career and his life when he was shot in his car.

"It was at the time when I was living in the township in Diepkloof where the guns were in the wrong hands," he told Soccer AM.

"To be honest I don't know what the motive was, there was a history of players being shot for changing clubs but, with me, I was just a few blocks from my house when I heard a gun shot and I realised I'd been shot.

"It was like my back was on fire. I was in a car with my younger brother and I remember my leg going numb and then the car stalled.

"I reached back and I realised there was blood so I changed seats and my brother rushed me off to the hospital.

"When I went to hospital I realised I was lucky that the bullet didn't go into any vital organs, it just went through flesh."


The former South Africa international brought down the curtain on a 15-year-career in 2005 after making over 400 appearances for both club and country.

His displays at the heart of the Leeds defence earned him plaudits from far and wide, while the Elland Road faithful showed exactly what they thought of him when close to 40,000 turned out for his testimonial.

But they aren't his only fans. During an official visit to Leeds Nelson Mandela described the original Kaizer Chief as "my hero", and Radebe admitted he was lost for words.

"I didn't know what to say when he said that to me, but obviously he is my hero," said Radebe. "It was an amazing feeling."

"When I became an international he would always come to training camps and we became close. He used to call me "Big Tree". He's a great man and an inspiration."


Having retired to his native Johannesburg, the 40-year-old is currently in England to promote his new autobiography, and he admitted it was a great feeling returning to Elland Road last weekend.

"I think it's my second home," he said. "I had a chance to walk on the pitch at half-time against Sheffield United which was great and at least they won as well, that was a great result for us.

"I felt like getting my boots back on! It was absolutely great seeing all the crowd and to say hi and thank you for their support.

"Obviously all the players have changed, but the background staff is all the same and it's a great feeling - I just felt at home seeing all the familiar face."