"This is not a job: this is part of my personal life mission."
Those were the words of Clarence Seedorf in December 2014 during his unveiling as UEFA's Global Ambassador for Diversity and Change. The UEFA Champions League legend and philanthropist was appointed by UEFA President Michel Platini to create new concepts and initiatives that will be introduced at the organisation, both institutionally and in competitions. The former Netherlands national team star becomes a key voice and role model in spreading messages of tolerance and unity in football.
The only player to have lifted the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs, Seedorf achieved it for the first time in 1994/95 at the age of just 19 when he was already a key player at AFC Ajax, who beat AC Milan in the Vienna final.
After a year at UC Sampdoria, Seedorf joined Real Madrid CF, where his tenure included another European crown, fittingly won in Amsterdam in 1997/98. Later, Seedorf signed for FC Internazionale Milano before moving on to Milan where he stayed a decade and became a legend. It was with the Rossoneri that Seedorf won his third UEFA Champions League winners' medal in 2003 as he became the first and only player winning the competition with three different clubs. He lifted the trophy for the fourth time in 2007 in Athens when Liverpool FC were defeated in the final.
After moving to Brazil to play with Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas, Seedorf played his final professional game in 2014, having appeared in more than 1,000 matches throughout his career. Just a few weeks later, Seedorf became coach of Milan while he continued his work with social development projects with the aim to make a difference to society through sport and education.
Beyond the pitch
Seedorf attended courses in psychology, management and a masters course in economics and finance. He is a board member of the Laureus Foundation and an entrepreneur. Having mastered six languages, Seedorf can communicate with a vast audience, and in his speech to delegates at UEFA's Respect Diversity conference in Rome in September 2014, he talked passionately about the need for steps to be taken in diversity through football.
"I am really honoured to be part of this whole project," he said. "After I spoke with the [UEFA] President, I felt his passion, and his ideas were very convincing.
As I have accepted this honour, of course I am going to commit fully, together with UEFA, to fight the fight against all forms of discrimination.
"I thank the president for the support he has given me and together we will work to make the world a better place both on and off the pitch. The leadership that UEFA is showing says so much about where we want to go, and I am sure that together we can gather enough people to create a great and positive movement."
"I am pleased with what UEFA's anti-discrimination campaigns and initiatives have achieved so far," said Mr Platini. "We have introduced new regulations, resolutions and procedures for referees in order to tackle the problem. However, there is much more work to be done and I am delighted UEFA will now be counting on the contribution of Clarence Seedorf, a European football legend.
"He is passionate about the cause and will lend his expertise to make sure our finger is on the pulse of the issue, and that we can stamp all forms of discrimination out of football. I thank Clarence for joining the UEFA team and for choosing to be a leader in this important battle. UEFA will be at his service, to make a positive change in European football."
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