Madiba’s magical moments

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Today Tata celebrates his 90th birthday and to honour South Africa’s hero, KickOff.com reflects back on magical moments that have been milestones in the role that he has played in bringing to the African continent for the first time, the Greatest Show on Earth, the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Last year when returning to Robben Island where he was detained for 18 years, Mandela spoke emotionally about what football meant to him.

“It helped uphold the values of tolerance, of inclusiveness and reconciliation, and of non-racialism and peace that are still dear to all of us today.”

Star players from around the globe, both past and present, gathered at Newlands Stadium on that occasion to pay tribute to him win ‘90 Minutes for Mandela’ match.

And who can forget February 3, 1996, when Madiba wearing Neil Tovey’s Bafana jersey took to the winner’s podium again to present the African Cup of Nations trophy to the South African skipper.

We can go even further back down Memory Lane, to November 30, 1994 at Ellis Park, the day of his inauguration as President when he arrived at half-time during the international friendly against Zambia to shake the players’ hands, holding up the restart by almost 15 minutes. An occasion to remember as goals by Brendon Augustine and Doctor Khumalo early in the second half gave South Africa a 2-1 victory.

There were tears in his eyes in Zurich, Switzerland in May 15, 2004 when Fifa announced that South Africa had been awarded the right to host the 2010 World Cup. Madiba had travelled to Europe against doctors’ order to show his commitment to the Bid.

Even soccer supremo Sepp Blatter says he is still touched by Madiba’s words on that historic occasion.

Mandela, who was a keen boxer in his younger days, is reputed to have followed the powerful Orlando Pirates team of the 1950s – but these days Kaizer Chiefs claim bragging rights, still proudly displaying pictures of Madiba’s visit to Naturena on their website.

But, above all, Madiba is a great supporter of South African sport, and when you throw codes like rugby nto the equation, it is fair to surmise that he has lifted more trophies than any other South African President.

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