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'Congratulations also to your wonderful football team' - Mandela part of Italia 90 homecoming

Mandela’s visit coincided with the Irish team’s official homecoming parade.

Updated at 20.00

ALMOST HALF A million people flooded the streets of the capital to welcome the Irish football team home from the World Cup but 1 July 1990 was a significant day for an another reason too.

Politics - South Africa - Nelson Mandela - Dublin Nelson Mandela meets Irish President Dr Patrick Hillery at his residence in the Phoenix Park. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

As Jack Charlton’s side – who had reached the quarter-finals at Italia 90 – paraded through Dublin, Nelson Mandela arrived in Ireland – just months after he’d been released from prison.

The future South Africa president came to these shores to accept the freedom of Dublin two years after being awarded it in absentia.

As it happened, both Mandela and Jackie’s Army were touching down within hours of each other with Dublin airport crammed with football fans and Mandela’s well-wishers.

During his speech at the Mansion House, Mandela famously made reference to the Irish football team.

mandela-mansion-house-speech-electionlit-413x500 Source: Irish Election Literature.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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