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Footballers Who Found Inspiration In Mandela

After Jose Mourinho quoted the great Nelson Mandela in a recent interview, here are another 10 hgih-profile footballing personalities who found inspiration in "Tata", who passed away six years ago today, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lucas Radebe.

Click through the gallery above to see 10 big names who were, at one point in their careers, inspired by Mandela.

Today is 5 December, and it has been six years since the passing of Mandela, the man who gave so much hope to many before and after his five-year run as President of South Africa between 1994 and 1999.

Not only did "Madiba", as he was affectionately known, inspire South Africans with his kind and forgiving heart as he fought for equal rights in a country that was once under the apartheid regime, he inspired and continues to inspire people from all around the world.

The legendary statesman had a keen interest in sports, football being one of them in particular. He, many times, said "sport has the power to inspire and unite people", while he once also said: "Who could doubt that sport is a crucial window for the propagation of fair play and justice? After all, fair play is a value that is essential to sport."

Because of his influence on the world, many sportsmen have turned to Mandela for inspiration, and some were even lucky enough to meet him, including Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

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On behalf of the Portugal national team, Ronaldo gifted Mandela with a football shirt with the No. 91 on the back signifying his age. When he passed in 2013, the then Real Madrid forward was quick to pay his respects to the great man with a tweet.

Former South Africa and Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe was also somebody who was touched by Mandela, as was Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba, who, after Mandela passed away, wore a shirt under his Galatasaray jersey as a tribute.

In 2016, ex-Liberia international and current president of the country George Weah said he was incredibly influenced by Mandela, telling FIFA TV: "I've encountered a lot of great people, such as Nelson Mandela. I listened to them and see how they did things. I wanted to be that person for my people."

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar David Beckham met Mandela in 2003, and also paid his respects to him at the time of his passing in 2013, writing on his official Facebook page: "My heart goes out to the people in South Africa and Mr Mandela's family. We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being. It was truly an honour to have known a man who had genuine love for so many people. Rest in peace."

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Ex-United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who met Mandela on a few occasions, also described him as a "special man". A few other big names feature in the gallery alongside the former president, whose legacy and impact on the world will last forever.

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