Mandela: Privileged and humbled
© AFP

Nelson Mandela has kicked off proceedings at the FIFA World Cup™ Final Draw by saying that South Africa is "privileged and humbled" to be staging football's greatest event.

The host nation's legendary and much-loved former president, 91, played a pivotal role in securing the first-ever FIFA World Cup on African soil, so it was fitting that he should welcome the audience to Cape Town in a special video address.

Mandela said: "Sport has the power to inspire and unite people. In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in the hearts of people. Which is why it is so important that the FIFA World Cup will, for the first time ever, be hosted on the African continent in 2010.

We must strive for excellence in our hosting of the World Cup, while at the same time, ensuring that we are going to leave a lasting benefit to all our people.
Nelson Mandela

"We feel privileged and humbled that South Africa has been given this singular honour of being the African host country. We must strive for excellence in our hosting of the World Cup, while at the same time, ensuring that we are going to leave a lasting benefit to all our people."

Mandela, of course, remains a hero to those people, and South Africa's iconic statesman expressed the hope that next year's showpiece would provide hope, encouragement and joy for the entire African continent.

He said: "The people of Africa learnt the lesson of patience and endurance in their long struggle for freedom. May the reward brought by the FIFA World Cup prove that the long wait for its arrival on African soil has been worth it... Ke Nako! It's time."