To celebrate thirty (30) years of the Premier League, SuperSport has been running the Premier League 30 Africa XI campaign to celebrate the best African players to have plied their trade in England’s top flight. On Wednesday, 29 June, campaign ambassador, Bafana Bafana, and Leeds United legend, Lucas Radebe was in conversation with SuperSport’s Lwazi Ziqubu to discuss his involvement in the initiative, which was streamed to an audience of Africa’s biggest media houses.
In a campaign that Radebe described as a “joy and honour” to be a part of, fans have had an opportunity to vote for eleven (11) of their favourite African players from a pool of 30.
In an hour-long conversation, the former Leeds captain spoke fondly of his time at Elland Road and the significance of the contributions of the first cohort of African players to play in the world’s best league.
“We [African players] came with something different in the way we play, especially with our body structure, compared to what they were used to. That elevated the Premier League,” he said. He was quick to recognize the contributions of those who came before him like Albert Johanneson who also played for Yorkshire-based Leeds United.
The Chief, as he’s commonly known as, acknowledged the pressure of representing not only one’s country but also the continent. This pressure was something that he and his contemporaries Tony Yeboah and Jay Jay Okocha faced. He however affirmed that their desire to succeed at the top helped them overcome that pressure and any other challenge.
“As Africans, we always looked back at where we come from. The surname on our backs meant a lot rather than the game itself.”
During his playing career and even after retirement, he and his African compatriots developed a sense of community. What was most important to them was the legacy they created to contribute to football in their respective countries of birth.
Friends they might have grown to become but he was not shy to admit to the difficulty of facing fellow Africans such as Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu and Yakubu Aiyegbeni. Of the later generation, he wished to have been pitted against the trio of Salah, Mane and Drogba as they would have, in his words, raised his game.
With Burnley’s Lyle Foster being the sole South African player in this upcoming Premier League season he believed professionalism was what would bring back the good days when a handful of Mzansi’s finest graced the English shores.
“The talent is there – we’re not far off. If we can invest more in the element of professionalism away from the game, it would be absolutely brilliant.”
The media conference was a precursor for another media event in Accra before the Gala Dinner in Lagos on 8 June 2023. There, the EPL Africa XI, voted by the fans, will be revealed in a glitzy evening befitting of Africa’s EPL Kings.
With the campaign wrapped up – and the countdown to the 2023-24 Premier League having already begun, SuperSport viewers on DStv and GOtv can look forward to enjoying nothing but the best of football entertainment.
DStv and GOtv is the only true home of football in Africa, offering a range and depth of action that no other rival can match – it’s literally ‘Unbeatable Football’! If you’re going to spend your money on something, it may as well be on the best football in the world.