Johannesburg - Manchester United have hailed international icon Nelson Mandela's
selflessness as an inspirational example to young and old alike.
The 19-time English champions arrived in South Africa on Monday
ahead of their Nelson Mandela Day encounter with AmaZulu at the Moses
Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday night.
The midweek fixture kicks off United's pre-season overseas tour,
with veteran defender Rio Ferdinand leading a side comprised of youth
Ahead of his team's clash with Usuthu on what will mark Mandela's
94th birthday, Ferdinand paid tribute to the momentous achievements of
the political activist, former state president and Nobel Peace Prize
"Mandela was selfless," he said. "He gave up the majority of his life for everybody else.
"In today's society you see so much selfishness and me, me, me.
But he gave up himself for a whole nation to make huge strides forward.
"He is someone any young kid now should be learning and writing about within the national curriculum.
"In today's world, there could be no better inspiration from one human being."
Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson echoed his captain's
sentiments, with the Scot still moved by his previous encounter with
'Madiba' 13 years ago.
"I remember when he spoke in Monaco after we won the Treble,
honestly, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up," revealed
Ferguson. "The speech he made was unbelievable.
"It's a privilege for us to be here, to celebrate his birthday.
"The impact he has made in South Africa is huge. The thing that
strikes me most of all is that there's no bitterness about him, despite
what he endured and suffered.
"You have to be special to put that to one side, to try and get on with life and influence this country in a massive way."