Sir Alex Ferguson gave Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela a special gift on his 94th birthday. The Manchester United boss serenaded Madiba with a heartfelt, if slightly off-pitch, version of “Happy Birthday” to mark the occasion.
United is in the midst of a pre-season tour of South Africa in preparation for the long season ahead. The Red Devils’ tour kicked off with a 1-0 victory over AmaZulu FC in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal with Federico Macheda bagging the game’s only goal.
While the crowds came out to see United’s stars, Ferguson made sure to pay homage to the global icon, Mandela.
“I have met him a few times now, and I think every time you meet him you’re sort of in awe of him … his presence, his personality exudes all around you,” Ferguson said.
Mandela has been out of the public eye for several years now — enjoying a much deserved retirement from political activity — but that didn’t stop anyone from celebrating his birthday.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea traveled to the Eastern Cape and Mandela’s childhood village of Qunu to join South Africa’s first democratically elected president for a pre-birthday meal.
Meanwhile, each South African performed 67 minutes of community service to commemorate the number of years Mandela spent working for others.
United and Ferguson continue their tour with a visit to Steven Pienaar‘s former club, Ajax Cape Town, on Saturday.