WEDDING BELLS FOR LUCAS RADEBE
Football legend Lucas “Rhoo” Radebe will walk down the aisle next month – for the second time. But he won’t reveal the identity of the mysterious woman who stole his heart. City Press understands that she is not in the public eye. She is an “ordinary woman” who has brought joy to his life. Radebe would neither confirm nor deny whether he was getting hitched in a few weeks’ time. “I can’t answer that. Did you get an invite?” he asked. “What I can say is that I’m happy where I am right now and I’m enjoying life. Obviously, at some point, I’ll have to take another step with my family. Life has been challenging and hard, but I don’t think life is meant to be like that.”
City Press has learnt from two people close to Radebe that he will remarry in December after his first wife, Feziwe, the mother of two of his five children, died tragically after a long battle with breast cancer seven years ago.
The former Leeds United captain told City Press: “I’ve committed myself to football for all of my life.
“After all that has happened, I still believe in marriage – especially as a man with kids. This is the backbone of the structure of one’s life.”
This week, the Soweto-born 46-year-old was revealed as the new ambassador for Johnnie Walker and will be hosting a celebration dinner on Thursday at Johannesburg’s Alexander Theatre.
“When I look back on my journey, I learnt this: Find your passion, then follow it, no matter what your mum says. Sometimes you lose that passion, like I did in Leeds, but you always get it back,” he said.
Radebe said being a single parent had been very hard. He and Feziwe had two children together – son Lucas Junior (16) and daughter Owami (11).
“To be a single father isn’t easy. You always try to [strike a] balance between business and family. But I appreciate what mothers go through in their daily lives. It is absolutely a full-time job that comes with huge responsibility,” he said. Radebe said he always put his children first. “But then you tend to neglect yourself. It’s a price you pay as a parent,” he said.
“I just want my children to be better than me and I’ll support them in whatever they want to do in life.”
His eldest son, Ofentse (22), is now playing for Bidvest Wits Football Club. Lucas Junior used to play for the same team.
“But I told Junior to focus on his studies this year. Ofentse is a defender, while Junior is a striker. Hopefully, in the future they won’t come up against each other,” he smiled.
“I received a call from one of the scouts today and he told me that they saw Lucas in Ofentse and that he had a bright future in soccer.”
Respect, commitment and humility are some of the morals and values that he would like to instil in his children.
“Our lifestyle is challenging. As a retired footballer, people look up to you and you have to be an example, and people always forget we are also not perfect.
“You have to behave and respect people, whether young or old, but at the same time, you have to live your life to the fullest.”
Radebe also has advice for the new generation of footballers.
“Young soccer players should bear in mind that football is not a long career. When you get a chance, make the best of it. You can live longer than your career.
“Lifestyle is a problem, because you are exposed to many things like women and alcohol,” he said.
“I’ve seen great players fall because of the lifestyle. I know people who were great footballers, but they misused their status. Seeing where they are today pains me.”
Radebe believes that South African football has a bright future. “I look around the country and I see better soccer players than me. Football is getting better and better.” And his English fans are still a part of his life. “Every time I go to Leeds, my fans put their clothes on the floor. They always demand that I take off my jacket and tie, and give them to them.
“Some of them have even named their pets after me – that’s how popular I am in Leeds,” he laughs.
“It feels great when people appreciate you when you are still alive.”
Former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe