Mandela and me - Hale resident's meeting with a global icon

Messenger Newspapers: Mr White with the signed photo Mr White with the signed photo

FORMER FA chairman Noel White recalls a brief but memorable meeting with Nelson Mandela 10 years ago.

Mr White, who lives in Hale, was part of a football delegation that visited Johannesburg to help promote South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

He said the meeting was brief because Mr Mandela was recovering from an illness.

Mr White said: “He was very quiet, he was very gentle and he was most pleased that we’d come. He knew the main things about football and he was pleased we were supporting South Africa’s bid for the finals in 2010.”

He has a photo of the England party with Nelson Mandela - signed by the great man himself. The delegation included David Beckham.

Mr White said the announcement of the death of the former South African president left him feeling “very sad.”

He added: “It was half expected, as they say, he’d been ill for some time so it didn’t come as a big shock to anybody. I had the privilege of meeting him.”

He shares the view shared by millions that Nelson Mandela was a great inspiration, both to his own nation and the rest of the world.

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