Sporting stars pay tribute to Nelson Mandela
The world's top sports stars have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, who has died at the age of 95.
Last Updated: 06/12/13 4:49pm
Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years by the Apartheid regime in South Africa before becoming the nation's first democratic president, used sport to unite the country - most notably during the 1995 Rugby World Cup when he famously wore a Springbok jersey when handing the trophy to Francois Pienaar.
"I've been very blessed," said Pienaar. "I was at the right place at the right time, more so than any Rugby World Cup captain before me and after me.
"What he did for the team was wonderful to watch - that air of confidence that he brought with him and that unbelievable humility that Madiba had is something that rubbed off.
"I never thought he would wear a Springbok jersey - most people would have worn a suit but he realised we were playing for the whole country."
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset, echoed Pienaars comments saying: "Mr Mandela was a truly remarkable man.
"I was honoured to be with him during the historic days of Rugby World Cup 1995 and saw his incredible impact on his nation and his people.
"His wisdom, intelligence and sheer presence was a wonder to behold."
A minute's applause will take place at all football matches in the Premier League, Football League and FA Cup this weekend to mark the passing of Mandela.
Three time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali paid tribute on his website. "What I will remember most about Mr Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.'
Pele has also paid his respects - he tweeted: "Today, I am very saddened. Nelson Mandela was one of the most influential people in my life."
Tiger Woods was playing in the World Challenge golf when he heard the news.
"I had a chance to meet him with my father in 1998," he said. "He invited us to his home and it was one of the most inspiring times of my life and it's a sad day for many people around the world."
Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted his respects with a picture of himself and Mandela. "Thankful Madiba for your legacy and your example. You"ll always stay with us"
Usain Bolt called Mandela "One of the greatest human beings ever. May your soul rest in peace. The world's greatest fighter".
FIFA have ordered flags to be flown at half-mast and a minute's silence to be held before the next round of international matches.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine."
"When he was cheered at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium at the World Cup, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced."
FA Chairman Greg Dyke led the tributes from British football.
"Nelson Mandela had that amazing ability to live through real injustice," he said.
"He was one of the greatest men of any generation. Partly because of what he achieved but more so for his ability to forgive."
Former England cricket captain Sir Ian Botham, met Mandela and described him as "a remarkable man".
"I'll always remember when he put his arm around me and thanked me for my stance against Apartheid," he told Sky Sports. "I was flattered by that as I hadn't realised how much it meant to so many people.
"It's a very sad day, not just for South Africa but for the world."