Article

Tributes flow for Mandela

6 December 2013 01:26

Tributes have poured in from around the sporting world for Nelson Mandela after the former South Africa president died on Thursday.

The South Africa World Cup winning rugby union captain in 1995 – Francois Pienaar – led the tributes and reflected on the impact Mandela had on his nation.

"The enormity of his impact is very difficult for me to describe," he said.

"The impact he had on me as an individual - I've been very blessed, I was at the right place at the right time, more so than any Rugby World Cup captain before me and after me.

"That air of confidence that he brought with him and that unbelievable humility that Madiba had is something that rubbed off."

Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali praised Mandela for his inspiration around the globe.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr Mandela," the boxing legend said. "His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world.

"What I will remember most about Mr Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be constrained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.

"He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free."

Leading South African golfer Ernie Els reflected on "a very sad day" for his country.

The 44-year commented: "We have lost one of the iconic leaders of our time.

"You cannot say anything bad about the man. He fought for what he believed in, went to prison for so many years and came out to lead our country."

Current president of the South African Football Association Danny Jordaan – a former ANC member of parliament under Mandela – credited him with the rebirth of their nation.

He said in a statement: "Madiba was responsible for lifting the spirits of our football nation from the talks to unite the Association to victory at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations."

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