Mandela appears at final, crowning South Africa's World Cup
JOHANNESBURG: Nelson Mandela crowned South Africa's World Cup with an appearance from the field at the closing ceremony, as 700 million viewers tuned in to watch the Dutch play Spain.
He flashed his famous smile and waved to the more than 80,000 fans as he circled the pitch alongside his wife Graca Machel in an open-air vehicle, in a brief but proud moment the nation had long waited for.
He was greeted by cheers of "Madiba", his clan name used affectionately by his compatriots, which rang louder than applause for any of the stars at the closing show that illuminated the stands in fireworks and lights.
His family had earlier hit out at FIFA "pressure" and he only decided two hours earlier to join 17 world leaders, royalty and a raft of Hollywood stars who have jetted into Johannesburg.
Mandela had cancelled on the June 11 opener when his 13-year-old great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash.
The moment inevitably recalled South Africa's 1995 rugby World Cup victory when Mandela donned the jersey of the nation's mainly white Springboks, in a moment now seen as a symbol of national healing.
The Nobel laureate's spirit has loomed large over Africa's first World Cup, which has been repeatedly compared to the national euphoria that greeted his release from an apartheid prison 20 years ago.
During the closing show, Colombian "Waka Waka" superstar Shakira performed on the field, which was transformed into a giant screen used to project a highlights reel of the tournament's best moments.
More than 700 performers showed off the nation's varied musical heritage, from jazz to urban hip-hop, while giant elephant puppets glided across the field.
Police deployed heavy security around the stadium, restricting access to the city's main highway and banning flights overhead