VIDEO: When AC Milan Took on Orlando Pirates and Nelson Mandela Was Guest of Honour

VIDEO: When AC Milan Took on Orlando Pirates and Nelson Mandela Was Guest of Honour

  • Hidden in the bowels of YouTube are gems that hark back to special moments in South Africa's colourful footballing past
  • One such nugget is highlights of a friendly match between Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and Italian super club AC Milan in 1993
  • What made the match more significant was that future president and then-ANC leader Nelson Mandela was a guest of honour

Imagine it, Orlando Pirates hosting AC Milan.

For many, that was a reality 30 years ago! The Buccaneers and the Rossoneri clashed at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on 12 June 1993. It was one of several fixtures involving European giants taking on local clubs in the years leading up to South Africa's first democratic election in April 1994.

ac milan, orlando pirates, nelson mandela, south africa, italy, serie a, stix morewa, steve tshwete, ellis park, june 1993, johannesburg
Nelson Mandela was in attendance as Orlando Pirates hosted AC Milan in a classic. Image source: @acmilandata and YouTube.
Source: UGC

Significantly, the guest of honour on that chilly afternoon in downtown Jozi was none other than future president Nelson Mandela, then the leader of the African National Congress. He was in attendance with the first minister of sports, arts and culture under his administration, the late Steve Tshwete among several other dignitaries.

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Milan had just come off winning their 13th Serie A title, and also swallowing the bitter aftertaste of losing the UEFA Champions League final against Marseille nearly three weeks earlier. Pirates, on the other hand, were approaching the climax of winning the next season's National Soccer League title as well as the African Champions Cup in 1995.

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The commentating team for the SABC that day were the legendary trio of Mark Gleeson, John Perlman and Jomo Sono as an entertaining thriller played out before a capacity crowd of 65 000 spectators.

When Bafana took on PSL XI

In January 2006, something unique and historic - that has never happened since - occurred at the King's Park Stadium in Durban.

The South African Football Association, with the help of Premier Soccer League clubs, held a trial match to finalise who would form part of the final 23-man squad to do duty at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. The public had a rough idea of who would form part of the squad going to North Africa, but several places were still up for grabs, with many promising and in-form players looking to force coach Ted Dumitru's hand at a very late hour.

Many legendary names pop up on both team sheets, with future stars who would have an impact on the local game littering the composite PSL side.