French soccer star Zinédine Zidane earned his reputation as one of the world's best players with his peerless, often impossible-looking displays of technique and control, but there are things that he would not "give up for any amount of fame or success."
One of these is his commitment, since being appointed a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in March 2001, to help countries reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"I've known hard times, too," he says. "I know what poverty is. I, too, lived in difficult places, where we didn't have everything. And today I want to help. There are things in this world that are more important than football." He describes his anti-poverty efforts as "the kind of thing my family, my upbringing and people I love have always encouraged. It's something that is part of you or isn't — but it's not something you embark upon or give up for any amount of fame or success."
Zidane's first collaboration with UNDP goes back to September 1999 when he and another soccer superstar, Ronaldo, launched the UNDP mobilization campaign, "Teams to End Poverty", inviting people, businesses and institutions to get involved in anti-poverty actions locally or internationally.
Zidane and Ronaldo also team up every year with their friends in the Match Against Poverty to raise awareness of the MDGs and to raise funds for poverty-fighting initiatives on behalf of UNDP. $US 360,000 in proceeds were raised from the 10th Match in Brazil held on December 19 2012, and were evenly split between two projects – one in Brazil and one in Cape Verde, West Africa - both aimed at re-integrating marginalized youth.
A multilingual public service announcement featuring Zidane and Didier Drogba called on citizens of the world to join the team that would beat poverty during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.