Date:Monday October 9 2006
Manchester United has Nelson Mandela but Rovers now have Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Both clubs are looking to expand their profiles in the African football market as it is one of the fastest growing areas for the sport. Slowly we are seeing more and more players from that continent arrive on our shores to set the Premiership alight.
One of these recent additions is Blackburn Rovers` very own Benni McCarthy.
Benni, along with fellow country-man Aaron Mokoena, signed a Rovers shirt that was presented to Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Tutu by Canon Chancellor Chris Chivers for his 75th birthday.
Desmond Tutu received international acclaim for his efforts to rid South Africa of Apartheid rule during the twentieth century. He has also become an iconic figure for his efforts during the peace movements and his dedication to the church.
It is a great honour for the club that someone of such high prestige should be pictured holding the Rovers shirt. Tutu said on the official website: "How very kind of these guys to think of me. It is a lovely gift and I shall certainly have to support Blackburn Rovers now."
It is fantastic for the club to not only be associated with such an esteemed individual but also be seen helping inter-faith relations in the area. It maintains Rovers` image of a family/community orientated club.
Chris Chivers, who went out to South Africa to present the Archbishop with the signed shirt said: "He was genuinely thrilled to receive it and asked to pass on his thanks and best wishes to everyone at the club."
Rovers` chairman, John Williams, added: "We were delighted to be able to assist Canon Chivers in this way and to see one of our shirts go to such a distinguished recipient as Archbishop Tutu."
Archbishop Tutu`s words follow on from Condoleezza Rice, America`s Secretary of State, who was also pictured with a Blackburn Rovers shirt after her visit to the area with Jack Straw (a devoted Rovers fan).
It would appear the profile of the club is expanding rapidly with the assistance of some globally recognised individuals and the efforts of the team, particularly in Europe.
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Date:Monday October 9 2006
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