|© UNICEF Italy/Andrea Ruggeri|
|Francesco Totti, one of Italy’s greatest football players, with children in a school playground after a press conference|
Francesco Totti, born in Rome in 1976, is one of Italy’s greatest football players. Playing in the Italian Premier League since 1993, he is captain of the Roma football club and a pillar of the Italian National team. His star began to shine internationally during the European Football Championships in 2000, when he led Italy to a second-place finish.
Totti’s popularity with adolescents and his genuine desire to help children led him to become a Goodwill Ambassador for the Italian Committee for UNICEF in March 2003. He was officially appointed ambassador before an important football match, in front of 70,000 spectators. Totti dedicated his nomination “to all the children suffering from armed conflicts all over the world” and said he hopes “to be able to use my fame to help them, with UNICEF, as much as I possibly can.”
In 2003, Totti made strong appeals for the protection of children during the Iraqi crisis and in 2004, he donated 220,000 euros (about US$265,000 ) to UNICEF - half of the royalties from sales of his very popular book of jokes about himself.