SuperSport commentator Mark Gleeson has been awarded the prestigious Caf Order of Merit for his illustrious contribution to African football for almost three decades.

The domineering South African, both in height and experience, boasts of expansive knowledge and information of the beautiful game on the African continent.

He told supersport.com: “I am pleased but more for a chance to reflect on all those who have helped me along the way.”

Renowned for his role in helping Fifa to archive African football at three World Cups including 2002 in South Korea and Japan, 2006 in Germany and 2010 in South Africa, the 53-year old is believed to be an encyclopedia on African football.

Married to Lynne and a father of two children, Gleeson is also a writer, commentator and journalist working across all platforms to promote African football.

He has covered the Africa Cup of Nations since 1992 in Senegal won by Ivory Coast, has covered 14 straight editions of Africa’s premier football tournament.

“The 1992 and 1996 editions were my favourite. The 1992 one because it was my first Afcon and 1996 because of South Africa’s victory at home and arriving on the African stage.”

Fellow veteran journalist Osasu Obayiuwana from Nigeria, who reports for the BBC World Football Programme and has known him for 20 years said: “Mark is one of the titans of African football journalism. He has done the hard legwork over three decades and deserves the accolades he is getting from Caf.

“That they honoured him, knowing he has been, like myself, a stringent critic of some of Caf’s policies, is a very pleasant and welcome surprise.”

Renowned BBC journalist Farayi Mungazi, who has known him for 15 years also carried praise for Gleeson. “What he doesn’t know about African football is not worth knowing.”

Among other recipients of this award were Al Ahly’s Hassan Hamdy, St George chairman and owner Abennet Guebre Meskel, veteran Cameroonian journalist Abel Mbengue, Joseph Gabio of Congo and Morocco’s Mostafa Bedir.