Two Leeds United captains come together.
Current Leeds United captain Liam Cooper and legendary skipper Lucas Radebe spoke to LUTV’s Bryn Law about the responsibility of leading the club.
Radebe who joined Leeds in 1994 from the Kaizer Chiefs, went on to become captain in 1998, spending 11 years at Elland Road and was voted into the club’s greatest ever XI.
Meanwhile, current skipper Cooper is on the verge of creating history with Leeds, with a potential promotion back to the Premier League, with nine games of the Sky Bet Championship season remaining.
Here the duo talk about their different experiences with the Whites and the honour of taking the captain’s armband.
Bryn: "Lucas, being given the Leeds United captaincy, is that right up there in your career?"
Lucas: “Coming from South Africa, that was never expected. What brought me to the club was the love and passion of the game and that is what I did, I always went out onto the field and gave 100 per cent. When George Graham gave me that armband it was extra motivation and extra responsibility, but it was greater than that. My role as a captain, not only on the field of play, but outside of the field of play as well, I had to make sure that everything that I do, I do it on behalf of the players. At that time we had players like David Hopkin, Gary Kelly and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and it was great, they all supported me and were all behind me. It was an honour to be made captain of such a great club like Leeds United. It was amazing.”
Bryn: "Talking about inspirational leaders, Liam, do you feel like the club has had one of those in place whilst you have been captain?"
Liam: “I hope people believe that. A big one for me is trying to set an example and embracing the role. I certainly think I have come into my own in the last couple of years and for Marcelo to give me the armband was a real honour and one I’ve taken with pride. I’m always there if the lads have any issues and I want to be that vocal point for the team. You do have your own game to worry about, but when you are given that armband, you do have a sense of duty to the rest of the lads as well to see how they are feeling and set the example. Usually I try and do that by getting the lads up for the game before it and speaking to the lads with pointers to try and help them out and it does go a long way. We’re so lucky at the minute that we have such a talented group and an unbelievable set of lads as well. We all want the same thing, we all have the same objectives, which is to get this club back to the glory days and playing in the top-flight again. If we can do that, we would be remembered at this club forever with the likes of Lucas and other legends who have been and gone. A lot of players pass through the club, but the ones that are remembered have left an unbelievable mark and to be remembered in that sort light is what we have in the back of our minds as a group. This is our story and hopefully we can be remembered forever.”
Bryn: "Lucas when you talked about the dressing room you were in, there were some huge personalities around you. How do you manage and work with that as a captain?"
Lucas: “Listening to Liam there, for me we have similarities, because I was one of those who would lead by example and doing everything wholeheartedly. Coming into the dressing room, we never had big players or big-name players to be honest as such. We had players who wanted to do well and develop into better players which was very good, because we knew that to get to the level we wanted to be at, we had to work hard as a group. We had players like Jason Wilcox and Michael Duberry who were big characters and would have a good laugh. For me, I believed we were all leaders. It was always exciting going into the dressing room and seeing Gary Kelly with his humour and Dubes and Jason Wilcox, it was fantastic. Everything came together and we became strong as a unit, not just as footballers. For me it was easy to lead a group like that, who were looking to improve every weekend.”
Keep an eye on www.leedsunited.com for part 2, coming soon.