The world has lost a great man this evening with the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
As well as being one of the single bravest leaders and visionaries of the 20th Century, Mandela was of course also a great football man; indeed in his autobiography he tells of the therapeutic effect the beautiful game had for him and his fellow inmates during their shameful imprisonment on Robben Island.
Not just football, Mandela embraced rugby also as a symbol of the post-Apartheid era, and his infectious love of sport proves the uniting capabilities of the games we play.
Football perhaps felt an even stronger attachment to Mandela for this, and the tributes have been flooding in on social networks for the late great man.
RIP Nelson Mandela. No words to describe the goodness you have brought to this world. Sad to see you go. Inspirational, my only ever hero.
— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) December 5, 2013
Thankful Madiba for your legacy and your example. You”ll always stay with us. pic.twitter.com/IA72uYB6N4
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 5, 2013
The greatest man on the planet has died. RIP Nelson Mandela
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 5, 2013
I was lucky enough to meet Nelson Mandela. Shook his hand and looked into his eyes.His greatness was overpowering
— Lee Dixon (@LeeDixon2) December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela the most amazing,inspirational leader of all time.Leaving a legacy which will be around 4centuries.RIP pic.twitter.com/ct1CgGTxMD
— Emmanuel Adebayor (@E_Adebayor) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson Mandela :( pic.twitter.com/daiRhEJxwq
— Edin Džeko (@EdDzeko) December 5, 2013
L’ Afrique du Sud a perdu son père. Respect à Mr Mandela Nelson http://t.co/gljJ29KwUO
— Eric Abidal (@EAbidalOfficial) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela (1918-2013).
— Xabi Alonso (@XabiAlonso) December 5, 2013
RIP Nelson Mandela. An inspirational and incredible man
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) December 5, 2013
R.I.P Nelson Mandela
— David De Gea (@D_DeGea) December 5, 2013