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Julen Lopetegui: My pride as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Julen Lopetegui, Sevilla FC Manager, expresses pride and excitement as he renews as Special Olympics Global Ambassador.

Julen Lopetegui, Sevilla FC manager, addresses our movement as he renews as Special Olympics Global Ambassador.

Julen Lopetegui: My pride as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Julen Lopetegui is determined to share the Special Olympics message of inclusion—and his pride at being our Global Ambassador—with the world! In a recent video to mark his renewal as Global Ambassador, Julen spoke of this pride and emphasised the important role that sport can play during difficult times. He said, “More than ever, I am proud to be an Ambassador for Special Olympics athletes and coaches … We all need to stay connected to one another and feel the power of sport, and to be able to share experiences and learn and grow. I feel a tremendous pride in representing Special Olympics as a Global Ambassador.”

A group of young men in blue football kits surround an older man in a black tracksuit as they all stand with their arms around each other smiling at the camera.
Special Olympics Global Ambassador Julen Lopetegui, with the six Special Olympics Spain athletes who assisted him at the Special Olympics and Futbol y Futuro clinic held in Madrid in April 2018.

As a hugely successful coach in one of the world’s top football (soccer) leagues—Spain’s La Liga—Julen is a role model for players and coaches the world over. The Special Olympics football community watched with excitement last year as he led Sevilla FC to a stunning victory against Inter Milan in the UEFA Europa League final. Julen’s determination and leadership resonate with the coaches and athletes of Special Olympics as Rafael Fernández Gordillo, a football coach with Special Olympics Spain, explained, “I consider it very important that a distinguished athlete like Julen Lopetegui is a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. His values are completely in line with ours: dedication, improvement… He knows what it means to work hard, to get results and reach goals without fear of everyday obstacles.” Special Olympics footballer, José Manuel Garrote Carnerero, who is also based in Sevilla, whole-heartedly agreed. He added, “He’s a very professional coach and also an amazing athlete. He loves football, his sport, just like we do. I hope he will keep representing us as a Special Olympics Ambassador for a very long time.”

A man in a black tracksuit crouches on a green pitch, pointing at two young children in jerseys who are holding their hands in the air.
Special Olympics Global Ambassador Julen Lopetegui with young participants in a Futbol y Futuro and Special Olympics football clinic held in Madrid in April 2018.

David Evangelista, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President and Managing Director, emphasised the significance of having a coach and sportsperson of Julen’s calibre so involved in our movement. He commented, “Special Olympics is honored to have Julen Lopetegui as a Global Ambassador of our movement. His professionalism, experience, and deep commitment to the principles of inclusion through sport make him an incredibly impactful Ambassador in the world’s most popular sport of football. In addition, Julen Lopetegui continues to underscore and amplify the impact that the coaches of Special Olympics athletes have, not only on their athletic performance, but in the lives of our athletes off the pitch as well. We are thrilled to announce the ongoing support and leadership of Julen Lopetegui as a Global Ambassador of the movement of Special Olympics.”

A young man in a Special Olympics t-shirt stands with his thumbs up in a room surrounded by hand-drawn pictures of football stadia.
Niall Guite, football super fan, artist, fundraiser and athlete of Special Olympics Great Britain sent Julen a drawing of Sevilla FC’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium during lockdown.

As part of his announcement, Julen took the chance to highlight the athletes of Special Olympics—and one in particular. Niall Guite, football super fan, artist, fundraiser and athlete of Special Olympics Great Britain sent Julen a drawing of Sevilla FC’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium during lockdown as a token of the movement’s appreciation of support. The drawing is among over 100 bespoke stadia drawings that Niall has created with the aim of raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics. In response, Julen said, “Niall has harnessed the pandemic with vision, determination. He was positive and proactive enough to make me this wonderful gift: This drawing of the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium for which I am very grateful, and both my family and I are delighted to have received it. Thank you so much Niall!”

The movement of Special Olympics welcomes Julen Lopetegui’s continued leadership, vision and support as part of his continued role as Global Ambassador. Adelante!

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