Saturday 24 February 2018

James Lawton: He knew sport was filled with a power to heal and unify

He was at the heart of the celebrations and wearing a team shirtIt was rivetingly appropriate that Nelson Mandela made his last public appearance on the bitterly cold Johannesburg night of the World Cup football final in 2010, writes James Lawton

He was already half occupying a closed world but the cheers of the great crowd in the brightly coloured stadium fashioned in the shape of an African cooking pot brought a smile to his face.

It was the most touching reminder that if the warrior turned peacemaker knew so well the soil and pain of his land he was also aware of the extraordinary place occupied by sport.

More presciently than any of his contemporaries on either side of the old apartheid line, he had seen that it was one filled with a power to both heal and unify.

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