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David Beckham paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela on Thusday by thanking him for being such an inspiration.
The retired soccer star took to his Facebook account to post a picture of himself with the former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary, who died peacefully at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, aged 95.
In a message accompanying the image, which featured Beckham meeting the legendary figure in 2003 before the then-England captain played in a friendly fixture against South Africa, he simply wrote: “Thank you.”
He also wrote on his Facebook page: “My heart goes out to the people in South Africa and Mr Mandela's family. We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being. It was truly an honor to have known a man who had genuine love for so many people. Rest in peace (sic)”
David's wife Victoria met Mandela along with her fellow Spice Girls bandmates – Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Mel B and Mel C – in 1997 when he jokingly declared: “These are my heroes.”
Emma led the girl group's tributes to the great man last night, writing on Twitter: “RIP Nelson Mandela. What a legacy he has left behind. I had the honour of meeting him and his spirit was unlike any other.”
Mel C tweeted: “I always feel strange acknowledging somebody's passing on twitter but I have to say I am honoured to have met the great Nelson Mandela #RIP (sic)”
Morgan Freeman, who played the South African leader in the 2009 film 'Invictus', also paid tribute to Mandela, describing him as “a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind”.
The 76-year-old actor – who some mistakenly posted a picture of next to tweets paying tribute to Mandela - added: “As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we've come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”
South African actress Charlize Theron wrote: “My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever.”
Bono, the Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist who has campaigned in many African countries, said in a statement: “It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience.
Many other celebrities were moved to pay tribute to the political icon after the news broke.
Simon Cowell tweeted: "So sad to hear about Nelson Mandela. Rest in peace."
Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie wrote: "Meeting Nelson Mandela at his house in Johannesburg was a truly memorable moment in life for me. He was an angel."
As a tribute to Madiba, ‘X Factor' UK judge Nicole Scherzinger sang an impromptu rendition of 'This Little Light of Mine' at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards ceremony in London on Thursday night.
Nicole said she had performed the track for Mandela at his 90th birthday party and was moved to tears as she took to the stage at the V&A Museum.
She later wrote on Twitter: "God Bless @NelsonMandela Tears stream as it was an honour to have known u./ U were truly exceptional & an inspiration. (sic)"
Actor Samuel L. Jackson said: "Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country." - Bang Showbiz and Reuters