Los Angeles - David Beckham paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela on Thursday night by thanking him for being such an inspiration.
The retired soccer star took to his Facebook account to post a picture of himself with the former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary, who died peacefully at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday night aged 95.
In a message accompanying the image, which featured Beckham meeting the legendary figure in 2003 before the then-England captain played in a friendly fixture against South Africa, he simply wrote: "Thank you."
Beckham also posted a longer tribute to Mandela shortly beforehand and admitted it was an "honour" to have met such a "courageous human being".
He wrote on his Facebook page: "My heart goes out to the people in South Africa and Mr Mandela's family. We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being. It was truly an honour to have known a man who had genuine love for so many people. Rest in peace (sic)"
David's wife Victoria met Mandela along with her fellow Spice Girls bandmates - Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Mel B and Mel C - in 1997 when he jokingly declared: "These are my heroes."
Emma led the girl group's tributes to the great man last night, writing on Twitter: "RIP Nelson Mandela. What a legacy he has left behind. I had the honour of meeting him and his spirit was unlike any other."
Mel C tweeted: "I always feel strange acknowledging somebody's passing on twitter but I have to say I am honoured to have met the great Nelson Mandela #RIP (sic)"
Morgan Freeman, who played the South African leader in the 2009 film Invictus, also paid tribute to Mandela, describing him as "a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind".
The 76-year-old actor - who some mistakenly posted a picture of next to tweets paying tribute to Mandela - added: "As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we've come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us."
South African actress Charlize Theron wrote: "My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever."
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