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Fergie, Ferdinand praise Madiba

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says it is an honour for his team to be involved in Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebrations in Durban.

The world’s best-supported football team are playing AmaZulu in the MTN Football Invitational at Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow, and as part of the festivities there will be a birthday song arranged for 94-year-old Mandela before kick-off.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says it is an honour for his team to be involved in Nelson Mandela's birthday celebrations in Durban. Credit: INLSA

Speaking after his team’s arrival in Durban today, Ferguson said he had met Mandela a few times and found it remarkable that the former South African president had not expressed any bitterness despite suffering so much under apartheid.

“It is a privilege for us to be here. What strikes me most about him is there is no bitterness about him. I have met him a few times and I remember when he spoke at previous awards functions. He’s unbelievable,” said the 70-year-old.

United skipper Rio Ferdinand said the players were also happy to feature in a match that highlighted such a special day.

“Mandela was selfless. For any youngster, it should be in the curriculum that there is an example of how to give of yourself for the good of the country,” the defender said.

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 8pm and will be broadcast live on SABC1.

It will be shown in 135 countries, according to the match organisers.

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