Football is extremely important to me. It has shaped who I am today, given me mental and physical discipline and has contributed to my strength as a person. For this reason, I am extremely proud to be an ambassador for the Homeless World Cup.
I believe that homeless individuals can greatly benefit from sport, so I am thrilled to be working with an organization that has football at its core. Whilst football is not the only solution to homelessness, it is a great tool to drive change and this is clearly highlighted through the Homeless World Cup. Through football, we are able to improve lives, build communities and unite people; giving homeless individuals a sense of purpose and a common goal.
I am not exempt from struggle myself. In 1988, my brother Oliver died from a blood clot in the brain during playing football. At this point in time I was transitioning from an amateur to a professional footballer, but I seriously considered giving up football all together. In times like these it is important to find strength and courage, and to me this was no truer than during this tragic and difficult time. Harnessing the strength and courage developed from the passing of my brother, football fortunately gave me the motivation to channel my anger, re-direct my focus and make my family proud. Sport helped keep my family strong and I believe it has the potential to do this for so many more people.
To me, football is a great mechanic to address the many faces of homelessness. Homeless individuals are some of the most socially excluded people in the world and being part of a team is such a great way to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, personal responsibility is an important part of everyday life, and a skill that can help homeless individuals drive change in their lives. We are continuously confronted with many temptations and face hard times throughout life, but it is essential to retain our values and ensure they do not get lost in our modern society. It is understandable that those who feel alone may try and find comfort in drugs or alcohol, but we need to ensure we fight against these temptations. It is crucial to remember that it doesn't matter what people think about you, it is what you think about yourself when you wake up in the morning that is most important. This is why the Homeless World Cup is so great, it allows people to feel proud of their achievements, giving them a sense of self worth.
Lastly and most importantly, being proud of your achievements is essential to success; I feel happy with what I've done in my career, for my country and my clubs and I feel a responsibility to pass this knowledge on to help others both on and off the pitch, which is why I'm so heavily involved with the Homeless World Cup.