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Former Italy forward Del Piero thanks Nelson Mandela

World Cup-winner pays tribute on news of death

06 December, 12:09
Former Italy forward Del Piero thanks Nelson Mandela (ANSA) - Rome, December 6 - Former Italy and Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero on Friday paid tribute to Nelson Mandela by paraphrasing the words of the South African leader who, among other things, spearheaded his country's successful drive to host the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95 after long lung illness.

''Sport has the power to change the world. The power to unite people. It speaks in a language that everyone understands.

Thank you, Mandela,'' Del Piero, a member of Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning squad who now plays in Australia for Sydney, wrote on his website.

Mandela's exact words were ''sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers,'' according to the International Political Forum.