Nedved wings in to replace Beckham as China ambassador

Reuters , Thursday 31 Mar 2016

Pavel Nedved
Former Juventus' player Pavel Nedved smiles as he arrives to watch the Italian Serie A soccer match against Genoa at the Luigi Ferraris stadium in Genoa March 11, 2012. (Reuters)

Former European Footballer of the Year Pavel Nedved has stepped in to fill the boots of England's David Beckham as ambassador for the burgeoning Chinese Super League.

Former Real Madrid and Manchester United midfielder Beckham was appointed three years ago as the first envoy for the cash-rich league that has seen a huge increase in investment as Chinese President Xi Jinping attempts to lift standards.

The 43-year-old Nedved, like Beckham a former winger, enjoyed a trophy-laden career with Sparta Prague, Lazio and Juventus as well as winning 91 caps for the Czech Republic and the Ballon d'Or in 2003.

"Before me it was David Beckham so it's a great honour for me and for the entire Czech Republic," Nedved was quoted as saying by Xinhua state agency on the sidelines of Xi's visit to Prague on Wednesday.

The Chinese Super League dubbed Nedved, currently vice-president at Italian champions Juventus, "Czech Ironman" and said he had all the characteristics required to be a good ambassador for the league.

"Nedved is known for his outstanding soccer skills and more importantly his never-say-die spirit. His fighting spirit fits well in what the Chinese Super League calls for," it said in a statement.

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