The world’s finest football players will be in South Africa during the months of June and July for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and this gives fans in the rainbow nation a chance to see their heroes in the flesh, with a lucky few able to interact and get a signature from players representing the 32 teams involved in this year’s showpiece event.

For South African Nkosi Moyo, his favourite football star is already in the country.

“Teko Modise for sure. That is the player I would love to meet and have him sign my Bafana shirt. His form is improving and I know he will be the difference for us at the World Cup,” said Nkosi.

For Aurelio Apicella, it’s all about Cristiano Ronaldo: “I want Ronaldo’s autograph, that would be priceless. I have a feeling this World Cup will see him reach the top with Portugal, and I would love a memento to remember the occasion, like a signed ball or shirt. I will go to the training sessions and try to get his attention.”

Tshwane/Pretoria schoolboy, Brendan van der Horst, is hoping to get a number of autographs during the tournament. “The Dutch and the Germans are my favourite teams, so I hope to get a few of their signatures at training. The two players I want the most are Michael Ballack and Arjen Robben, they are both phenomenal players,” said the excited scholar.

A number of those questioned were hoping to get the autographs of Brazil’s Kaka and Spain’s Fernando Torres, but Argentine starlet, Lionel Messi, stole the show, with over half of the fans keen to get his signature during the tournament.

“Leo Messi is going to be a legend, and I would go to every single training session if there was a chance to get his signature on my Barcelona shirt, it would be one of the best moments of my life, ” said a smiling Arwyn Sanders from Cape Town.

Johannesburg DJ, Francesco Coda, revealed, “Pirlo and Cannavaro are fantastic, and I would love their autographs, but if there is one player that I would choose, it would have to be (Lionel) Messi. He is incredible, and may be the best of all time. I would be proud to tell my children one day that I saw him and got his autograph, it would be fantastic.”

Real Estate Agent Webster Khoza had a similar opinion regarding the diminutive Argentine talent, saying, “His signature is likely to be worth the most after the tournament and in years to come, but I would keep anything signed by him in a glass display case in the entrance of my house, that way anyone coming to visit me knows that I was in the presence of greatness.”

Derrick Weller summed up the general feeling of Messi fans when he said, “Lionel Messi has been the best player of the season, and he will continue that form with Argentina and who knows, maybe he will do what (Diego) Maradona did in 1986 and win the World Cup. Either way, I believe he will win the World Cup before he retires, and getting his signature would be amazing.”