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SA SOCCER NEWS
Grobbelaar heaps praise on Radebe 03/05/05
Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar led the tributes for Lucas Radebe, who bade an emotional farewell at Elland Road where nearly 38,000 fans turned out for his testimonial.

Radebe marked the end of an illustrious 11-year career at the West Yorkshire club by playing one half for a Leeds United XI and another for an International XI, who ran out 7-3 winners.

Zimbabwean Grobbelaar, who was born in Durban, showed glimpses of the flamboyant style that made him a favourite at Anfield in a carnival atmosphere as Leeds fans celebrated the end of the line for one of their favourites.

The 36-year-old defender, who was capped 70 times by South Africa and captained them at World Cups in France in 1998 and Japan and South Korea in 2002, has been forced to quit playing through injury.

Radebe has managed only two games for Leeds this season after rupturing an Achilles tendon against Wolves in August last year and then suffering medial ligament damage.

"He is not just revered in Leeds, where he is and deserves to be hugely popular, but throughout the whole of South Africa," Grobbelaar said.

"For 38,000 people to come and see him speaks volumes for him. The man is an ambassador for football and for South Africa.

"He will be very proud and will probably want to thank everyone here himself."

Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, Gary Speed, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Tony Yeboah, Vinnie Jones and David Batty among others turned out for a Leeds XI, while Grobbelaar, Mario Melchiot, Olivier Dacourt, John Carew and Jay-Jay Okocha were among the stars on show for an International XI.

Bolton midfielder Speed, who played alongside Radebe at Leeds for nearly two years before a £3.5million move to Everton in July 1996, insisted he deserves all the acclaim he gets.

Speed said: "You just had to see the crowd. That says it all, really. A full house has made it a great occasion for him and I am honoured to have been a part of it.

"I would like to thank him for inviting me."

Former Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson brought Radebe to England as a 25-year-old after paying Kaiser Chiefs £250,000 for both him and striker Phil Masinga.

Radebe went on to make 261 appearances for Leeds and was rewarded in style as Elland Road's biggest crowd of the season made his testimonial a day he should never forget.

"Credit for Lucas goes to Geoff Sleight (Leeds chief scout at the time)," said Wilkinson.

"He went to track Phil Masinga but told me 'I think I've found a better player'. He followed him to another game in Australia and we managed to sneak them both out for the same money. It was a good deal."

Radebe is hoping to convince Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell he is fit enough to sign off in Leeds' last match of the season against Rotherham.

"Now I have shown I am fit enough hopefully the gaffer can put me on for five minutes," he said.

"After this I am tempted to carry on, but I think that's it. I have to accept with my injuries that I have to move on, but I will still be in Leeds.

"I would like to finish in the last game and be there, but a lot depends on the manager."

 

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