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Meet FIFA’s Soccer Ambassadors
Abedi Pele, former Ghanaian international soccer player and captain, is regarded as the greatest player in Ghana’s history and amongst the best in the African continent. As a pioneer of African soccer in European clubs, Pele played for Italian, Swiss, German, and French teams. He also played 67 times for his country in the 80’s and 90’s. Named African Footballer of the Year in 1991, 1992 and 1993, his name was also included as one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers in March 2004. Though he never got to play a World Cup, he dominated African soccer for nearly a decade. Today, Pele owns a club that nurtures young talent to join the fledgling league of Ghana. This legend is deeply involved with charity work and is one of the continent’s most respected Ambassadors. As a member of FIFA’s Football Committee, Pele has the honor of taking part in the maximum number of charity matches than any other African player.
Jomo Sono lost his soccer star father in a car crash at the age of 8. His mother abandoned him and Sono was looked after by his ailing grandparents. At the age of 10, he sold apples and peanuts during soccer matches. During a soccer match one of the players was absent and Sono was asked to quickly put on a soccer shirt and stand in for the player! That was the beginning of Sono’s illustrious career. He soon became known for his incredible dribbling and accurate passing skills. A fan gave Sono the nickname Jomo, or burning spear, since he saw in him the same leadership qualities as the President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. And Sono sure did live up to his name! Having played for Orlando Pirates, he went to play for New York Cosmos alongside Brazil’s Pele. On his return, he bought the Highlands Park Club and renamed it Jomo Cosmos in honor of his old team. The club achieved great success and Sono developed new talent for Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national team. Today, the Black Prince is the longest serving coach in South Africa’s Premier League and is also on the board of the Premier League. Former Cameroonian forward, Roger Milla, is one of the first African players to become a major international soccer star. Having represented his country in three World Cups, Milla attained international stardom at the age of 38 when most footballers retire! Wearing the famous number 9 soccer shirt, he went on to score 4 goals in the 1990 World Cup, which got Cameroon into the quarterfinals. He also made it to Pele’s list of the 125 greatest living footballers. Besides winning numerous distinctions on the soccer field, Milla serves as an Ambassador for Cameroon and UNAIDS.
Liberian George Weah played for clubs in France, Italy and England for 14 years. The year 1995 saw him become the FIFA World Player of the Year, European Footballer of the Year, and African Footballer of the Year. Considered as one of the best African footballers ever, Weah has since taken up humanitarian and political causes in Liberia. Through soccer he spreads joy and promotes education among children. As President of the Junior Professionals, Weah discovered many a talent who have gone on to play for the Liberian national team.
Lucas Radebe, former South African player and national team captain, began his career as a goalkeeper. He later moved to the Kaizer Chiefs where he played as a midfielder. Radebe then joined the South African National Team in 1992. The year 1994 saw him move to wear the Leeds United soccer uniforms, where he became a huge soccer star and captain. Radebe was also captain of the South African national team during the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. Radebe is FIFA’s Ambassador for the SOS Children’s Villages.
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