Our legendary former skipper and FA Cup winner flew out to South Africa earlier this week for the star-studded affair in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 89th birthday.
After a quick glance of the squads it’s good and bad news for Gary – he might have all-time great Pele on his side, but he could end up marking Barcelona hitman Samuel Eto’o!
“It’s a real honour for me to be involved,” said Gary, who played over 600 games in 16 years at the Lane between 1982-1998. “We’ve got the likes of Pele, Ruud Gullit and the great Spanish striker Emilio Butragueno in the World XI squad while there are a few lads who played in England in the African XI, including George Weah, Mark Fish and Lucas Radebe.
“I was an ambassador for the South African World Cup 2010 bid team so to see that bid successful and now be involved in a game for Nelson Mandela is very special, he is one of my heroes for what he’s done for South Africa.”
As for the prospect of facing Eto’o, Mabbsy joked: “I’m hoping I might be subbed by then! The mind is certainly willing but I’m not so sure about the body!”
The proceeds from the match have been earmarked for legacy programmes reaching out to young people in South Africa by using football to develop educational, health and social programmes. The exact activities will be decided and implemented in conjunction with the Nelson Mendela Foundation.
Gary Mabbutt says he's privileged to represent the Rest of the World XI against an African XI in the '90 Minutes for Mandela' match in Cape Town on Wednesday.