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Johan Djourou Joins Common Goal

Former Gunner makes the 1% pledge

Johan Djourou says he wants to help kids to have a normal chance at life after the ex-Switzerland international joined the Common Goal movement.

Currently plying his trade at FC Nordsjælland – the first football club to sign up to the movement – Djourou has amassed more than 250 appearances across the English and German top divisions in the past.

Speaking at the World Football Summit alongside Common Goal co-founder and Manchester United maestro, Juan Mata, Djourou wanted to dispel myth that players are just machines built to win football matches.

And, after becoming the 142nd player or coach to join Common Goal, the Ivory Coast-born centre-half highlighted his own unique experiences in the past as crucial in helping him to see the broader picture, away from Europe.

"This image that athletes are just robots and that they are there to win the points or the league but they don't have feelings, that's totally wrong because at the end of the day we play with our emotions,” he said.

“When we are on the pitch, we play with what we have in our guts and in our hearts, we give everything to try to win and to make the people that follow us happy.

 “Straight away I had the chance to see the difference, about being in Africa, and then being in Europe, and I always thought that ‘why me’?

“As soon as I got and I made money I wanted to give back something to Africa and I made a foundation not for footballers but just for kids to get their own educations to have the chance to go to school and become someone in life.

“[I did this] because in Africa, or let’s say in a country where you have less possibility, life starts at a very young age and you become a woman and you’re only a kid and you become a man and you’re only five or six-years old and we want to give those kids a chance to grow up as normal and to have a normal chance at life.”

Now 33, Djourou wants to take his charitable work further and having already established his own foundation in Africa, feels the time is right to team up with Common Goal.

It was that inclination towards charity and activism that has led the centre-half towards making the 1% pledge towards organisations that utilise football for social development and upon his arrival on Saturday spoke of what activism means to him.

“Activism, when we hear this word, we think of signs protests, speeches, lifted fists. A grand public gesture comes to mind,” he added.

“But how did these people get here, how did they reach this point? I have learned that activism starts within, it is a constant quest to do better.

“Why am I here? And in turn, how can I better serve others? This journey has led me to join other activists. Led me to join Common Goal.”