Mandela asks England to back SA World Cup bid

Updated: 25 February 2007 08:48 IST

Former President Nelson Mandela has asked the English national soccer team to support South Africa's bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

Johannesburg:

Former President Nelson Mandela has asked the English national soccer team to support South Africa's bid to host the 2010 World Cup. "We hope you and the British people will support our bid," Mandela said after meeting England and South Africa players on the eve on an international friendly between the two countries. "If you and the British people support us, I am sure many other countries will do so. I'm sure you will do that." England captain David Beckham presented Mandela with an England shirt with Mandela's name on the back. As he accepted the shirt, Mandela advised the South African players to "walk tall" during the match. "When you are playing one of the best teams - the English team are of course our friends - you can make us walk tall, you have done so already," he said. Beckham impressed Beckham, who will win his 60th international cap in Durban on Thursday, described Mandela as an "inspirational" figure. "It's great to be here today. It an amazing honor for all of us," said a beaming Beckham, adding he "fully backed" South Africa's bid to host the World Cup. "It would be simply amazing to have a World Cup played in such a great country as South Africa," he said. Beckham said England isn't expecting to steamroll the South Africans, who are expected to be captained by Leeds United's Lucas Radebe. He said meeting Mandela was not the only reason he came to South Africa. "I am suspended for our next Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia but after a talk with the FA and manager (Sven-Goran Eriksson), I felt it was important that as captain come here and play. This is a very big game for both countries and I expect it will be a good game." Eriksson said he also expected a difficult 90 minutes. "Every game is important and we want to do well." (AP)

Topics : Football
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