HCM CITY — Italian football legend Fabio Cannavaro said he was surprised and deeply moved by his reception from local fans in his three-day visit to Viet Nam.
|Age cannot weary: Fabio Cannavaro vies for the ball against a player from HCM City's under-15 team. The Italian legend is visiting Viet Nam for the first time. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Nhut
"I was deeply moved by the admiration you have for me," said Cannavaro. "It is a great surprise for me because this is the first time I have come here and because Viet Nam and Italy are so far away geographically."
Speaking through an interpreter at a reception with hundreds of Vietnamese fans at the Youth Culture House in HCM City yesterday, the last day in his visit, Cannavaro shared some football tips and talked about his family life.
Some fans declared their love to him, while others held banners praising the football player and his team Juventus. One female fan even sang a song in Italian for Cannavaro.
"Money is important and it can change a person's life but since I began playing football, it is always my passion," he said in answer to a fan's question about football and money.
Cannavaro is one of the best defenders in his generation. He won the World Cup with the Italian team in 2006 and also became the FIFA World Player of the Year that year.
He has played for many famous football clubs, including Juventus and Real Madrid.
Not only is he a talented footballer but Cannavaro's life has been free of scandal, making him a role model for young footballers.
"Many fans think that footballers often have a self-indulgent life with love affairs but it is not true for most footballers. For me, I am a man of family," he said.
Ma Tien Phong, a freshman at the HCM City College of Culture, said he has been a fan of the Italian player since he was six years old.
While Cannavaro signed autographs for many of his fans, Phong missed out in the rush to meet the football star.
"I carried this portrait of Cannavaro around with me for the past three days, but I didn't manage to get his autograph because there are so many fans here," Phong said.
Cannavaro came to Viet Nam as a football ambassador and to promote Italian football across the country.
On Saturday, he held a training session with HCM City's U15 football team at Thong Nhat Stadium. — VNS