Football mourns Nelson Mandela

The great and the good of world football have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95 on Thursday.

Sepp Blatter has also chipped in with his thoughts on the former South Africa President.

The FIFA president released a statement saying the former South Africa president was ”probably one of the greatest humanists of our time.”

Blatter said he and Mandela ”shared an unwavering belief in the extraordinary power of football to unite people in peace and friendship.”

Inevitably, when anything of import occurs these days, professional footballers reach for their phones and start tweeting to their legion of followers. Mandela’s death was no different. A panoply of footballers were quick to express their sorrow on the passing of the great man. Professional footballers are hardly noted for their engagement with the wider world, so it is refreshing to see so many willing to pay tribute to Mandela.

“A hero is someone who has given his life for something bigger than oneself…The world lost a hero, Africa lost a father…RIP Mandela,” said reigning African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure.

“Let us all continue his legacy with purpose and passion,” said Pele.

Crisitiano Ronaldo and his former Manchester United team-mate, Michael Carrick, also highlighted the legacy of Mandela’s life.

“Thankful Madiba for your legacy and your example. You”ll always stay with us,” said the Portuguese.

“A real inspiration.¬†Lived once but his legacy lives forever,” tweeted Carrick.

English football will pay tribute to Mandela ahead of this weekend’s matches.

The reasons for doing so seem unclear, but the Premier League and the Football League have asked their clubs to hold a minute’s applause before all games as a mark of respect.

Sad though his passing is, one suspects that were he alive, even Mandela would be taken aback to learn that he was being honoured at every Premier League ground.