Premiership: Radebe set for quit talks

Leeds skipper Lucas Radebe will return to South Africa tonight for talks with his country's football association - the outcome of which will ultimately send shockwaves through his homeland.

Leeds skipper Lucas Radebe will return to South Africa tonight for talks with his country's football association - the outcome of which will ultimately send shockwaves through his homeland.

Radebe is due to meet with Danny Jordaan, the chief executive officer of the South African Football Association, to confirm his retirement from the international game.

But, unlike the decision of Tony Adams to quit England, Radebe's announcement will have unprecedented repercussions.

Radebe is a hero to the South African people, a player who is worshipped and mobbed whenever he returns home, such is his status.

The 31-year-old has become a role model to both old and young alike given the fact he grew up in the township of Soweto under apartheid.

Radebe also survived being shot in the back during his early career with Kaizer Chiefs, and having since proved himself to a top-class central defender, he has become a superstar in the eyes of an adoring populace.

But the tug of war which has constantly raged between South Africa and Leeds, particularly during the last week, has finally taken its toll on Radebe.

His call-up to the South Africa squad for next Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Burkina Faso has left Leeds boss David O'Leary fuming.

O'Leary has since questioned Radebe's commitment to Leeds, given United face Liverpool in an FA Cup fourth-round tie the same day, even threatening to strip him of the club captaincy if he did not end his international career.

Radebe is understood to have asked South Africa permission to be released from the Burkina Faso game, a request which was apparently categorically denied.

Given the untenable situation, Radebe and his advisor Gary Blumberg then met with Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale and manager David O'Leary following yesterday's 3-1 defeat to Newcastle.

Radebe is believed to have pledged his future to Leeds, albeit after next weekend as the squad announcement has left him with no alternative but to play for South Africa in what will now prove to be his swansong.

With Radebe flying out tonight, it means as well as missing the cup tie, he is also out of Wednesday's Premiership clash with Aston Villa.

Before travelling to South Africa, Radebe said: "I had an opportunity to meet with the chairman Peter Ridsdale. He understands my predicament and is very supportive of my position.

"I obviously realise the importance of my commitment to the club and he appreciates how hard a decision it is for me to withdraw from my international duties.

"What I would like to do now is to have the opportunity to meet with Danny Jordaan and SAFA and inform him and them personally of my decision."

Radebe, who denies being railroaded into making such a decision, is due to release a statement later this week after meeting with SAFA.

"Something had to give and this constant pressure applied by both sides has deeply affected Lucas," revealed Blumberg.

"He hates to let anyone down and whenever there is a national call-up which results in a clash of fixtures, one team has to do without him.

"Lucas wants to go on playing for as long as possible and while nothing is certain in life, I think he feels this decision will possibly give him the best chance.

"But I don't think people in England will be able to comprehend the impact such a decision will have in South Africa.

"It's all very sad. He will be a loss to South African and international football."

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