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“It is like a Christmas gift,” said former Romanian international footballer Mihai Nesu after receiving the FIFPro Merit Award and a $25,000 USD cheque for his work with disabled children.

Nesu’s career ended abruptly in June 2011. He fractured his cervical vertebra when a teammate fell on top of him during training. Now partially-paralysed, he can only use his right arm and shoulders. He moves around with a custom-made wheelchair.

During his rehabilitation process in the Netherlands and the USA, he met various children with disabilities and chronic diseases and decided to establish a foundation to help children in his home country. “When you are disabled in Romania, there is nothing for you,” he said.

The Mihai Nesu Foundation has got its own recovery centre in Oradea, which has given therapy to more than 130 children since its creation.

Nesu, who won 3 Romanian league championships with Steaua Bucharest and made 5 appearances for Romania’s national team, said he is proud to receive the Merit Award.

“It shows that what we are doing is very important; working together with the children every day for a better life and a better health.”

“This amount covers almost a quarter of our annual budget and gives us the opportunity to provide more children with therapy,” Nesu added.

The 34-year old Nesu himself is undergoing treatment with the 60 children who are currently at his centre.

“He knows all children and their problems, and the kids are happy to have Mihai around,” said Emilian Hulubei, President of the Romanian player union who collected the award on behalf of Nesu during the FIFPro general assembly in Cairo.

“We consider Mihai as an example for all of us,” Hulubei added. “He is trying to make the best out of a very negative event and has brought a smile upon many children’s faces.”


More information about the Mihai Nesu Foundation:

Website Mihai Nesu Foundation


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About the FIFPro Merit Award

Each year since 2008 FIFPro has honoured a professional footballer for the work he or she has done to benefit a charity. The winner receives a $25,000 (USD) cheque for the charity in question.


Cheque Mesu 650

Emilian Hulubei (right) collects the FIFPro Merit Award on behalf of Mihai Nesu