Dutch football legend Clarence Seedorf paid a glowing tribute to Street League, the national charity which uses the power of football to tackle youth unemployment across the UK, during a recent visit to London. 

As UEFA's Global Ambassador for Diversity and Change, Seedorf was in town to produce a film supporting the European Week of Sport, which takes place in September and will encourage more people to engage in sport and be active.

The former Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan midfielder joined one of Street League’s Academy programmes, which combines employability skills with football. Street League work with 16 to 24-year-olds who are facing socio-economic barriers to employment, and Seedorf believes that education and sport combined can have a positive effect on improving the lives of young people.

“It's very good to do sports because it gives you the values that can help you in life,” he said. “That, combined with education, can only help you in moving forward. Street League is perfect in that respect." 

Seedorf told the young people attending the Academy how, even during the early years of his footballing career, he had taken it on himself to study.

“I studied from the age of 16. Nobody told me to continue studying, nobody supported that process. At the age of 28 or 29 I started to do some courses and I went to university. I wanted to be knowledgable and better myself."

Having come from humble beginnings himself, Seedorf had barriers to overcome but he maintained focus and always set himself targets.

“The challenges in outside life made it difficult but you have to focus on yourself. I set myself goals and aimed to achieve them, which I did. Goal-setting helped me focus on what I needed to do and enabled me to have a plan.”

The 39-year-old feels that life is all about taking your chances and working hard.

“It's about getting what you can and saying 'this is me, give me a chance' and sticking at it. Many of my dreams became reality because of persistence and having the right attitude."

Having played alongside the likes of Kaka, Raul and David Beckham and being the only player in the history of the game to win the UEFA Champions League four times, Clarence Seedorf's record speaks for itself. He was on hand to offer shooting and passing tips to the Street League Academy and encourage all participants to ignore any distractions.

He told them: “Whether you play in front of 80,000 people or 80, you need to block it out and remain focused.” 

Click here to find out more information about the European Week of Sport.