12 Jul 2010

Mandela appears at Soccer City

6:39 am on 12 July 2010

A beaming Nelson Mandela waved to the tens of thousands of fans in Soccer City ahead of the football World Cup final, drawing thunderous applause as he was driven onto the pitch.

South Africa's first black president rode next to his wife Graca Machel in an open-air vehicle, flashing his world-famous smile to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

Both were warmly wrapped against the winter chill in Johannesburg as they appeared for just a few minutes, his first appearance at the World Cup.

The Nobel laureate, who turns 92 in just one week, played a crucial role in bringing the World Cup to South Africa.

But he cancelled his appearance at the June 11 opener after his 13-year-old great-granddaughter died in a car accident on the eve the tournament.