JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Nov. 18, 2010) — The U.S. Men’s National Team had the privilege of meeting with Nelson Mandela at his office in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday afternoon. The team was joined by the South African national team following the USA’s 1-0 victory Wednesday night in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town.
"Mr. Mandela is one of the most significant and inspirational leaders of our time, and it was a great honor for our team to spend time with him," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. "We have spoken of the honor of playing in a match bearing his name, and to meet him personally is certainly a highlight and a once in a lifetime opportunity. U.S. Soccer went out of their way to make this possible, and we are very grateful."
U.S. captain Brad Guzan and South Africa captain Steven Pienaar sat with Mandela. Bradley presented the former president with a U.S. team jersey with Madiba and No. 10 on the back, and then introduced the players and staff individually before taking a group photo.
"For the players, it was a real privilege to meet Mr. Mandela," said Guzan. "He is such a great man, and we all know the profound impact he made in South Africa and around the world. It is an experience we will never forget."
The William J. Clinton Foundation help facilitate the meeting. President Clinton is the honorary chairman of the USA Bid Committee and will travel to Zurich, Switzerland, with the U.S. delegation to make the final presentation to the FIFA Executive Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 1.
Prior to the match against Bafana Bafana, U.S. Soccer joined SAFA in presenting a check for $125,000 to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.