FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who met Mandela several times as South Africa prepared to host the 2010 World Cup, said: "It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
"He and I shared an unwavering belief in the extraordinary power of football to unite people in peace and friendship, and to teach basic social and educational values as a school of life."
Footballers including Cristiano Ronaldo, Jack Wilshere, Rio Ferdinand, Yaya Toure, Ruud Gullit and Gary Lineker - many of whom will have been fortunate enough to meet Mandela - along with many of the world's biggest football clubs were quick to pay tribute via Twitter and other social media.
1993: Mandela lines-up with the Man Utd squad prior to a friendly against Kaizer Chiefs.
1993: Mandela greets Arsenal skipper Tony Adams ahead of a pre-season friendly.
1996: Mandela (front, centre) celebrates with the victorious South Africa team at the Africa Cup of Nations.
2003: The England squad (including Ian Walker...) visit Mandela during a summer tour of South Africa.
2004: Mandela with FIFA President Sepp Blatter shortly after it is announced South Africa will host the 2010 World Cup.
2007: Barcelona's stars meet Mandela ahead of a match against Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria.
2007: Samuel Eto'o and Pele were both delighted to meet Nelson ahead of his 89th birthday.
2010: The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium prepares to host World Cup action.
2010: Mandela attends the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg.
2007: Former AC Milan star George Weah makes a peace sign at Robben Island, where Mandela spent 18 years in prison.
2003: Franz Beckenbauer visits Mandela in Cape Town to present a gift from the 2006 World Cup Organising Committee.
2010: A portrait of Mandela etched into a field in Castagnaro, northern Italy to celebrate the 2010 World Cup.
1990: Huge crowds gather at Wembley - the home of football - for a concert to celebrate his freedom.