They themselves are accustomed to being idolised by millions, but when Pele and Samuel Eto'o stood in the presence of Nelson Mandela, such is the great man's aura that the star duo found themselves utterly star-struck.

During the meeting, Pele - who has left a family holiday to play in the '90 Minutes for Mandela' match - kissed Mandela on the cheek, joking that his mother had instructed him to do so. The South African humanitarian, for his part, addressed Pele as "the maestro", only for FIFA's Player of the Century to reply: "No, you are the maestro".

The meeting had a similar impact on three-time CAF African Footballer of the Year Eto'o. The Barcelona striker explained the impact that Mandela had on his life, saying: "I had two personalities in my life who gave me support when I was in trouble - God and Mr Mandela. And that's why I came."

FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner also paid a glowing tribute to the players. "Having Pele in any country is always a pleasure," he said, "but having Pele and Eto'o in one country is a dream come true for me and is a tribute to the amount of respect they have for Madiba and his fight against racism."

Mandela, meanwhile, was all smiles and even joked with the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Irvin Khoza, asking: "Why don't you hire me as a deputy-chairman?"

The '90 Minutes for Mandela' match will be played at Newlands stadium, with an Eto'o led African XI facing up to a Rest of the World XI featuring the iconic Pele. Special balls have also been made for the game, bearing the logo '46664': Mandela's prison number and now a symbol of campaign to raise global awareness about HIV and AIDS.