He was loved by the world because of his leadership
World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit believes that Nelson Mandela embodied all the qualities of the ultimate leader.
The former South African President, Nobel Peace prize winner and anti-Apartheid icon passed away on Thursday aged 95, and Smit said that his greatest strength as a leader had been an ability to connect with people from all walks of life.
"He was loved by the world because of his leadership. This is what we will all miss the most but remember the best," said Smit, who is now CEO of the Sharks.
Smit said he was fortunate enough to have shared a special bond with the former President.
"I first met Madiba before my first Test match in 2000 and I was more nervous about meeting the great man than making my Springbok debut," said Smit.
"He saw that, smiled and embraced me. He made it just so easy to speak to him," he added.
Smit went on to win over 100 caps for South Africa before retiring in 2011.
"For me as a player, the moments I had with him on a one-on-one basis and from a team perspective is something I will cherish forever," he said.