NOW it’s not every day a true legend pops into your school for a visit so it’s no wonder there was such excitement caused at a Morley high school when a man who fits that bill called in for a visit.
Former Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe thrilled students at Bruntliffe High School when he spent the afternoon with them.
Lucas was on a short visit from his home in South Africa back to his beloved Leeds for the official launch of a new biography charting his early life and his time at Elland Road.
During the few days he was back in the city he called in at Bruntcliffe to officially open its new multi-media suite and to chat to students about their work with the Show Racism The Red Card campaign,
And he didn’t come alone - to double the excitement former Bruntcliffe student and current Leeds United vice-captain Jonny Howson made the trip back to his old school with him.
After arriving amid a frenzy of excitement Lucas was first given the honour of officially opening the Think Tank, the school’s state-of-the-art new media centre based in the former caretaker’s house in the school grounds.
The centre will be the hub for the school’s website, which is now going to be run and written by a group of year 11 students under the guidance of department heads,
As well as writing for and running the website students will also be doing picture editing, print and photography work and will be making the most of the school’s specialist status as an enterprise college by framing and selling some of their work.
After Lucas and Jonny cut the ribbon to open the centre they were given a tour of the facilities and were able to chat to students about their work.
While in the Think Tank Lucas also met one of the school’s keenest footballers, Ben Moylan, who was presented with a special award at Bruntcliffe’s annual sports awards the following day.
Ben, who plays in central midfield, has missed just one match for the school since he was in year seven. As an extra prize for his dedication on the field Lucas presented him with a signed copy of his biography.
Next stop on his school tour was the sports hall, where some of the younger students had a chance to meet the Leeds duo.
There they met and chatted with the children about their work on the Stephen Lawrence Award and the Show Racism the Red Card campaign, which has been a prominent part of school life.
One of the students who got to meet Lucas was 13-year-old African-born Betty Abate, who last year won a long fight against deportation back to Ethiopia with her mother Elsa.
Betty said she had heard of Lucas before his visit and said he was “really nice”.
“I asked him some questions and he answered them in a really straightforward way,” she said. “I asked him a question about Nelson Mandela because he had said that Lucas Radebe was his hero and Lucas said he’d been really pleased about that because Nelson Mandela was his hero.”
Speaking to the Observer and Advertiser Lucas said he had been incredibly impressed by everything he’d seen at Bruntcliffe.
“This school has achieved such a lot,” he said.
“Racism is one of the things that divide people and communities and individuals but people have got the right to be accepted by everyone else and live in safety.
“It’s nice to see it’s so important to the children here and it’s fantastic to see the work they’ve been doing with the school.
“They are setting a good example to other people and to each other. I think it will benefit them and their community and it gives this school a good reputation. I think you have to give credit to the teachers as well.”
Lucas said he also thought the new Think Tank media suite was a fantastic facility which the school should be very proud of.
“To have this technology is just amazing and the support the kids will be getting is great because they’ll be able to do big things with it,” he said.
“For schools in Leeds to be able to have these kinds of facilities and have these kinds of advantages is amazing and very beneficial.
“The students will be able to achieve all kinds of things and it allows them to do it themselves - that should be the same for most of the schools in the city. It would be great if they could all have something like this.”
Head of Bruntliffe Linda Johnson said it had been a fantastic day for everyone at the school.
“Lucas has been so generous with his time,” she said. “Some of the children may be too young to have known him as a player but now they know him as a man.
“You see footballers these days and so many have such decadent lifestyles so when you see someone like Lucas giving so much back to the community it’s very special.
“It makes me very proud that we can invite someone like him into our school.”
Final word of the day went to one excited younger pupil who summed up the feelings of all the students to Mrs Johnson.
“Miss - I wish every week at school was like this!”