Defender speaks ahead of Nelson Mandela Day.
Phil Bardsley is amongst the select group to have had a personal audience with former South African leader Nelson Mandela.
The defender has shared his memories ahead of this weekend’s game against Manchester United.
The fixture has been designated as Nelson Mandela Day following the recent announcement of the club’s partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“We met Nelson Mandela during a pre-season tour and the sheer presence he has is incredible,” he said.
“As sportsmen we are often in the spotlight but there we were in the presence of a man who has helped change the world.
“I still have a picture on my phone of myself with him and that is definitely something I can show my kids.
“He was very nice with us and made us feel extremely welcome.”
The club’s partnership with the Foundation is geared towards spreading Nelson Mandela’s message of social justice and equality through the medium of football.
Bardsley added: “It’s great that the club are associated with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“We’ve already seen the good work the Foundation of Light does in the north east and this partnership will help people across the world.
“I’m privileged to have met the man himself and if this partnership can achieve even a fraction of what he has then it will be a great success.”