Cometh the Hour. Cometh the Mandela; Nelson, 91, in Cup History
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."
The opening ceremony begins at 1pm UK time. But the celebrations had already kicked off with a star-studded concert last night in Soweto. More than 30,000 people packed into the Orlando Stadium to watch Shakira sing the World Cup song Waka Waka. The Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys also performed.
Thousands more fans continued their invasion of South Africa yesterday ahead of today's opening game in Johannesburg between South Africa and Mexico.
Fabio Capello's boys play their first match against the USA tomorrow in Rustenburg.
Organisers there have put up a 1,250-square metre marquee, called Fan Fest, for supporters to party in. Manager Mfundo Cele said: "England fans are known for their love of beer, we've made sure our base is the best."
Nearby, a Lucky's bar took delivery of 1.2million pints of lager. Boss Lucky Ramora, 45, said: "We know the English reputation for partying, we won't let them down."
The UK is set for its biggest power surge tomorrow since the 1990 World Cup semifinal. Millions of fans turning on TVs and kettles will cause a surge not seen since that night in Turin 20 years ago when England lost to Germany on penalties.
No doubt booze will flow, too. …