Cometh the Hour. Cometh the Mandela; Nelson, 91, in Cup History

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Byline: MARTIN FRICKER; JEREMY ARMSTRONG

HE inspired millions with his determination to crush apartheid, and tonight Nelson Mandela will be part of another historic moment.

The 91-year-old is guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the first ever World Cup to be played on African soil.

A video message recorded by the former president will be beamed inside the stadium and across the globe.

He will say: "The generosity of the human spirit can overcome all adversity.

"Through compassion and caring we can create hope."

Mandela's voice will also appear over the official World Cup song Hope when it is played inside the stadium.

The presence of the great man - who was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to the country - will delight millions of Africans.

His daughter Zindzi said the former ANC chief was "like an excited child" on the eve of the World Cup.

On Wednesday Mandela described the first World Cup on African soil as a "historic moment for democracy".

In a message to FIFA delegates in Johannesburg, he said: "The 2010 World Cup is much more than a game.

"It symbolises the power of football, which can bring people together from all over, whatever their language, colour, political beliefs or religious faith. …