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Brazilian soccer great Pele and three-time African player of the year Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon delivered a special birthday gift on Tuesday to former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The players are among 50 past and present international stars taking part in a soccer friendly -- "90 Minutes for Mandela" -- to mark the popular leader's 89th birthday on Wednesday.
A smiling Mandela received an official shirt for the match with his name and number 89 on the back.
"I am deeply honoured to receive this tribute ... but it must always be remembered that I was one of many who fought for freedom from tyranny and racism," Mandela said.
The match, to be played in Cape Town, will pit an Africa side against a Rest of the World team.
"I have met a lot of great personalities in my life but Nelson Mandela is an extraordinary person," Pele said. "I am really touched and honoured to lead the Rest of the World team in his birthday match. I am a big admirer of what this man has achieved in his life."
Mandela praised world soccer body Fifa for honouring the Makana Football Association, which was formed by political prisoners on Robben Island, where he was incarcerated for 18 of the 27 years he spent in jail. Mandela watched games from his cell window until prison authorities built a wall to further cut him off.
Fifa vice-president Jack Warner will confer honorary Fifa membership on the Makana association before Wednesday's match.
"During the dark years of our incarceration, the association drew together all the prisoners on the island around the beautiful game of soccer," Mandela said. "In this way it helped uphold the values of tolerance, of inclusiveness and reconciliation, and of non-racialism and peace that are still dear to all of us today."
Mandela also discussed a number of topics, including the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, in a private meeting with the players as well as Fifa and local soccer representatives at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. -- Sapa-AP