Former FC Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez, who is considered to be one of the best midfielders in the history of the game, sent a message to SA football fans in an exclusive interview with Soccer Laduma.
The 36-year-old left the Catalan giants ahead of the 2015/16 season after literally winning every trophy he could in football.
He now runs out for Qatar-based side Al Sadd, and caught up with Soccer Laduma to celebrate the 1000th edition of the publication.
Asked what comes to mind when he hears "South Africa", he recalled Spain's 2010 FIFA World Cup triumph, and also sent a message to SA's fanatic football lovers.
"The first thought that comes to my mind is a huge happiness," he said.
"It was something (winning the World Cup) that Spanish football was looking for since many years ago, and we were the ones that could achieve it for a first time, so it was amazing for us and for all those people that we could make so happy.
"I just would like to say that, for me, it was always a pleasure to play in South Africa, and your country always will be among, if not the best, one of the best memories in my career.
"Keep the passion for the game, and enjoy playing and watching football, always with respect for the rival."
Buy this week's special edition of Soccer Laduma, issue 1000, to read the full interview, in which the Barcelona legend chats about Lionel Messi's first senior training sessions, Jose Mourinho as assistant coach at Barca, and his memories of Benni McCarthy and Lucas Radebe.