As the world's football fans rushed to get their hands on tickets for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, the enormity of the scale of the event hit home for its delighted organisers.
Over 300,000 online ticket applications were received within 48 hours of tickets going on sale, with the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Organising Committee South Africa (OC), Dr Danny Jordaan, ecstatic with the faith shown by the international football fraternity in South Africa's ability to successfully deliver the event. This figure excludes the thousands of applications being processed via the 700 First National Bank (FNB) branches around the country.
"It is the end of doubt and the beginning of optimism and hope - it is a wonderful time of celebration," an emotive Jordaan said as he reflected on the milestone achieved of tickets for the 2010 world spectacular going on global sale.
For Jordaan, the launch of ticket sales brought back a flood of memories of the day it was first decided that South Africa would bid to host the FIFA World Cup.
"When I think back to the birth of the idea to host the World Cup, at the 1994 FIFA Congress in Chicago, held around the time of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, I realise just how long the road has been. I was talking with the then South African Football Association President Sticks Morewa, when the idea first came to us at the association that South Africa should bid to host the World Cup. In December of that year we sent our letter of intention to FIFA and now, 15 years on and with two bids behind us, I sit here with grey hair and a great sense of achievement," said Jordaan.
"This is a very happy moment, I feel as if we are at a high-point on this 15 year rollercoaster journey," he added.
The sense of achievement felt by Jordaan is well-founded and a lot has been accomplished since South Africa was announced as the 2010 FIFA World Cup host country on that memorable day in Zurich on 15 May 2004.
"It has been a long and difficult journey, but we have been through two bids, we have secured funding, we have worked on stadiums, we have selected the host cities, we have dealt with transport, we have dealt with security and now we are selling tickets. This is real, the World Cup is coming to South Africa," said Jordaan.
With 472 days to go until the opening match at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, there are still many challenges that lie in wait for Jordaan and the OC.
"From the top of this rollercoaster we are looking ahead at the FIFA Confederations Cup, the Final Draw in Cape Town on 4 December this year and then eventually the World Cup itself," said Jordaan.
For Jordaan one of the most pressing of these challenges is getting South Africans to apply for their tickets in time.
"South Africans must get their tickets early, we know the event is taking place here and we know Bafana Bafana have qualified - as they say, the early bird catches the worm. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that may not come back to this continent for 50 or 60 years".