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Quotes on Nelson Mandela's birthday

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Quotes from sports figures on Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday on Thursday:

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''I would like to join the chorus of voices around the world wishing you all the best on your 95th birthday. Today we remember your courageous fight against oppression and the inspirational example you set to others who are battling injustice.'' - FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

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''It still gives me chills to this day, thinking about it ... The energy that he has, that he exudes, is unlike any person I've ever met ... And that's an experience that I will never, ever forget.'' - Golfer Tiger Woods recalling this week a 1998 meeting with Mandela.

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''Mandela gave such a great gift to South Africa. One year he arrived at the Nelson Mandela Invitational tournament, which we ran for charity. I met him at the helicopter in a golf cart. As he climbed into the cart he said to me, `Gary, do you still remember me?' Here was one of the most famous men in the world, yet he still had such humility. I asked him how he could not be filled with hatred after all he endured. He simply told me that he had spent his time in prison filling his heart with love.'' - South African golfer Gary Player.

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''Still one of the most iconic sporting & political moments. Happy 95th Birthday Nelson Mandela.'' - England's Rugby Football Union while posting on Twitter a picture of Mandela shaking hands with victorious Springboks captain Francois Pienaar at the 1995 World Cup final.

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''To one of our biggest fans of Springbok rugby. Happy 95th birthday Madiba. From the team of '95 and all involved in South African rugby.'' - The South African Rugby Union, referring to Mandela affectionately by his clan name `Madiba.'

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''Happy Birthday Madiba!'' - Olympic swimming champion Chad le Clos on Twitter.

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''Big happy birthday to my hero TaTa Madiba.'' - Premier League footballer Steven Pienaar on Twitter. (Tata means father in South Africa's Xhosa language.)

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''There are no words to describe the impact Madiba has made on us as cricketers and for sport in our country. We hope that he is peaceful on this special day of his and that all South Africans celebrate in a way that would make him proud.'' - South Africa cricket captain AB de Villiers.

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''Taking into account the events of the past month there is an added sense of poignancy as we celebrate Madiba's 95th birthday. Everything happens for a reason and there is a salutary lesson and reminder to all of us that our founding father remains a source of inspiration and unity to the nation.'' - Naasei Appiah, acting chief executive of Cricket South Africa.

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''Today we are able to come together freely, on the tennis courts and elsewhere, mainly due to his efforts and commitment. Thank you Madiba for this freedom.'' - Tennis South Africa chief executive Ian Smith.

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''Happy birthday to a man whose legacy continues to inspire the world.'' - South Africa's Sharks Super Rugby team.

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''Happy 95th birthday to one of the greatest men who ever lived, Nelson Mandela.'' - Canada rugby international Jebb Sinclair, who formerly played in South Africa, on Twitter.

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