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Dec 3, 2009

Beckham meets with Blatter to boost bid

David Beckham's presence in South Africa on behalf of England's stuttering 2018 World Cup bid appears to have paid off after successful meetings with two of football's most powerful figures.

• Warshaw: Spotlight on 2018

Beckham met with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and vice-president Jack Warner on Wednesday hoping to make a good impression given most of the bid's publicity to date has been about in-fighting and poiltics.

Lord Triesman, the bid and FA chairman, was alongside Beckham and said afterwards: "We had some excellent meetings today including with the FIFA president Sepp Blatter and with FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

"David was hugely impressive in those meetings. It is clear that legacy is central to the hopes of FIFA and any successful bid. This area is one of David's great passions and will be integral to our bid.''

It has emerged that Beckham intends to stay in South Africa to assist with the bid despite being told his grandfather has died, although his plans may change if the funeral is arranged for later this week.

Beckham told Blatter of his delight to be in South Africa, having felt honoured to meet the country's former president Nelson Mandela on a previous visit.

Beckham told FIFA's website: "It was a very relaxed, light-hearted conversation and it was good to speak to him. Mr Blatter is not just the FIFA president and a powerful man in football, but he's a very, very good person as well, which is more important.

"When I was last here with England, I had the honour of meeting Nelson Mandela. That was the highlight of my career; to meet such a great man and a strong man and such a passionate man about sport and life will always stay with me.''

Warner said afterwards: "It was a good meeting - some pleasant chit-chat and he asked my advice on how best to proceed in the bid, which I was happy to give.''

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